Pay Attention: Legal Issues and Your Media Company


Pay Attention: Legal Issues and Your Media Company

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SKU: NUSDT46-19 Tag:


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Course summary

The long arm of the law reaches into every aspect of a news organization, no matter how small or large. From how you or your reporters go about digging up information and which community members get covered to what you do when mistakes do happen or angry readers claim defamation, legal issues are constantly part of the journalism process.

This course aims to expose you to a wide variety of legal issues you need to consider throughout the news-publishing process as well as practical approaches to minimizing risk. It is not looking to arm you to be your own lawyer. This is not training so you can defend yourself in court. The goal is to fill you in on legal risks, not tell you what to do legally.

The core of this course will focus on risks that news organizations face when publishing articles, video, and other content.

Note: Always seek out an actual lawyer to help you with specific legal issues, especially since media laws change state by state. It is always good to have a lawyer that understands your local market. This course mainly focuses on federal laws.

What will I learn

  • The basic legal risks of newsgathering and news dissemination
  • Different ways defamation and copyright issues can occur
  • Importance of offering a retraction or correction when a mistake is made
  • What to look for in a media-related insurance policy

Who should take this course

Writers, publishers, editors and anyone else who works at a media outlet.


Alison Steele

Alison M. Steele, P.A. is a woman-founded law firm in St. Petersburg, Florida. Alison has represented major media companies and individual journalists throughout Florida and the U.S. in her 32 years in practice and is internationally known for her work and teaching on First Amendment issues. She is First Amendment counsel for the Tampa Bay Times.

David Bralow

David Bralow serves as the First Amendment Counsel of First Look Media and the Legal Director of the Press Freedom Defense Fund. He previously was of counsel in the Media, Communication and Entertainment Practice Group of Pepper Hamilton LLP. He also served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Digital First Media; and as Assistant General Counsel for 13 years at the Tribune Company.

Other contributors

Al Fine, Director of Risk Management and coverage counsel at G2; Dale Cohen, special counsel at Frontline and Director of Documentary Film Clinic at UCLA School of Law; and Lee Levine, senior counsel at Ballard Spahr; Al-Amyn Sumar, First Amendment Fellow at the New York Times; James Chadwick, media law and intellectual property attorney at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, LLP; Corynne McSherry, Legal Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation; Allison Hobbs, senior counsel at Viacom; Mark Miller, Poynter Institute; Alanna Dvorak, Poynter Institute; and Vanya Tsvetkova, Poynter Institute.

Training Sponsor

The Democracy Fund aspires to the highest ideals of the American republic — government of, by, and for the people. We invest in organizations working to ensure that our political system is responsive to the priorities of the American public and has the capacity to meet the greatest challenges facing our country.

About self-directed courses

In a self-directed course, you can start and stop whenever you like, progressing entirely at your own pace and going back as many times as you want to review the material.


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