Friday, January 21, 2011

Book Review: The Journalist's Guide to Media Law by Mark Pearson and Mark Polden

The Journalist's Guide to Media Law by Mark Pearson and Mark Polden

ISBN: 9781742370385

Australian Pub.: November 2010

Edition: 4th

Publisher: ALLEN & UNWIN

RRP: $59.99

Subject: Law

Edition Number: 4th

The most highly regarded introduction to legal and ethical issues faced by journalists, fully updated to reflect recent cases and changes in the law.


'Journalists don't need law degrees to do their work. They do however need a sound understanding of the principles of press freedom and the ethical and legal limits of what can and should be reported. A new media landscape makes this book even more valuable.' - Chris Masters, Walkley Award-winning investigative journalist

'The leading text book from which most journos learned their law' - Margaret Simons, Crikey

This widely used introduction to media law takes a journalist's perspective. Written in a clear, non-legalistic fashion, it shows how journalists can produce ethical, hard-edged reportage while staying on the right side of the law. The authors also explain how to negotiate some of the key ethical minefields of day-to-day reporting, focusing on ethical dilemmas which can have legal consequences.

This fully revised fourth edition offers a comprehensive overview of aspects of law which relate to a journalist's work including defamation, contempt, confidentiality, privacy, trespass, intellectual property and ethical regulation. Recent cases and examples are used to illustrate key points. Also included is an introduction to the legal system and guidelines on reporting legal issues.

Tips, summaries and a handy flow chart to defamation law make The Journalist's Guide to Media Law a handy reference for professionals and an essential text for students.

About Mark Pearson and Mark Polden

MARK PEARSON is Professor of Journalism at Bond University and holds a Master of Laws with a specialisation in media law. He has worked as a journalist on a variety of metropolitan, suburban and regional newspapers and was a section editor on The Australian. He is Australian correspondent for the international media freedom organisation Reporters Sans Frontieres. MARK POLDEN is a Sydney barrister. He was in house counsel for Fairfax Media for the best part of two decades, and in 2006 was a member of the Australian Law Reform Commission advisory committee on sedition.


The Journalist’s Guide to Media Law is a no nonsense, clear and easy to navigate text on the issue facing the media today. The author uses some interesting examples that the reader will be able to relate to and understand. I found the case studies used to be very familiar and easy to recognise, making it more understandable with the elements of Media Law covered in each chapter.

There are many interesting topics covered, such as defamation, confidentiality, privacy, trespass and intellectual property as well as the ethics of media. Apart from those working in the journalism field or students, your typical newspaper and magazine reader would probably find this book interesting.

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