Guide to Laws for Journalists in the United States
1. Free Speech
Of course every journalist needs to know about free speech laws!
2. Journalists Privilege/Shield Laws
“Journalists Privilege,” also known as the “journalist shield law,” is the right not to be compelled to testify or disclose sources and information in court.
Publishing something false and negative about a person could be considered defamation.
Publishing something private about someone could be considered an invasion of privacy.
If you are a freelance journalist, you generally have rights to stories you publish (unless you are working under an agreement that says otherwise). If you are considered an employee journalist with a media organization such as a newspaper, you may not have such rights. Either way, you should beware of infringing on others’ copyrights.
6. Obtaining information from the government
Journalists, like everyone else, have the right to obtain access to public records held by federal agencies, with some exceptions including national security related information. See more at our Guide to Open Government.
7. Police Conduct
Journalists often face situations where they interact with the police or other law enforcement.
8. Internet & Social Media
And of course, since almost all journalism and news is online, you should definitely know about laws about the Internet & Social Media.