Top five ways of not being sued

Some people go above and beyond to get the “story of the century”, by any way necessary even if it means breaking the law. They may not know they are breaking the law, so here are some tips to help future news writers. You will need them if you plan to be a successful writer/reporter.

  1. You want information on a person so you decide to enter his or her property without permission. But wait, wouldn’t that be trespassing? Yes entering private property without the owner’s permission could get you arrested for trespassing. Here are some things to remember:
  • Gather information from places that are opened to the public.
  • If you want to gather information from private property, get permission from the owner first.

2. When you are out on the job gathering information for your story, it is best for you to make phone calls to people who will be able to help you with your story. Be careful in how you gather information, if you plan to record the conversation.

  • When conducting an interview make sure that if you plan on recording the conversation makes sure you have the permission of the other party.

Other things to remember if you are attending public meetings, you are free to record audio or video. But when you are talking with someone it is always best to ask rather it is ok to be recorded or ask if this is “On the record”.

3. One day you go to your mailbox are look into your email and it is seems you received some information that will help your story. You decided to use this information for your story, but come to an impasse. The information you obtain is classified information.

  • Any information you obtain about a government employee, when it is a classified document you CAN NOT release that information to the public. You will be in violation of The Espionage Act.
  • In some cases, not all information can be used and it is always best to find other ways of collecting information.

4. Elements of Conversion: You are on another story and you decide to gather some information from a source. A picture for example may help your story a lot, you decide to take the photo and make a copy of it. Some way or another you don’t return the photo, you make be sued for conversion.

  • The owner can prove that the property does in fact belong to them.
  • The owner is some way can prove that there was damages ensue.
  • Ways to avoid being arrested for conversion, if only have the photo temporarily and you returned the item to the owner without  it being depriving the owner of the photo.

5. Working on a story you gather information from a reliable source. You would like to reveal the identity of the source, but unfortunately the source does not want to be revealed. Here are something to remember:

  • Your source may have good reasons of not wanting to be revealed to the public.
  • They may just want to reveal the information to no one but you.
  • If for some reason you reveal your sources name or information, you could be sued by your informant.
  • It is always best to keep promises to your reliable source so that you would not be brought in on charges.
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