25 July 2017

Go Big or Go Home (But Do Your Cost-Benefit Analysis First)

We were all warned that most students on this course have their first lesson on media law and then decide that they're never going to write anything ever again. This kind of fear of legal reprisal is probably a healthy thing when you're starting out as a journo. I however seem to be at the other extreme. The message I walked home with is as follows:

If you're going to get sued, make it spectacular. 

Don't go to court because you made some trivial mistake. Go to court because you're terrifying some huge corporation or major authority. Go after somebody that won't just sue you for libel or breach of privacy. Go after somebody that will sue you into bankruptcy.

I candidly admit that this is very bad advice and I absolutely do not recommend that anybody should set out deliberately to get sued. (If you do write something that you know is going to get you sued though, I will buy you a drink when you inevitably end up in the London civil court.)

In no way do I actually want to end up in court unless it's a matter of principle that I'm prepared to defend to the death. But as an investigative and campaigning journalist, I firmly believe that if I am not being threatened with legal action on a fairly regular basis, I am not doing my job properly.

I will be honored when somebody decides that it's worth them going to court to try to shut me up. I intend to frame my first writ and hang it on my wall.  I can't make a difference if I'm not prepared to make trouble.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please make your comment short, constructive, friendly and legal (see the English libel laws in particular). Thanks.