McNae’s: still essential, 21 editions later – Judith Townend

A journalist with no formal legal training gave his name to the industry’s media law “bible”.

Leonard McNae, 1902-1996, wrote the firstEssential Law for Journalists for the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), which was published as a book in 1954, replacing the NUJ’s The Pressman and the Law by G.F.L. Bridgman of the Middle Temple.

Its latest edition written by Mike Dodd, legal advisor to the Press Association, and Mark Hanna, senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield, launched on 30 March at The Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn, London.

Among the lawyers, academics and journalists attending the launch on Friday were Dodd and Hanna’s predecessors, Tom Welsh and Walter Greenwood.

Lord Hunt, chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, gave the keynote speech which outlined some of his experiences at the self-regulatory body so far, as it moves into its transition phase. Against any form of statutory regulation, he has drawn up a draft for a regulatory system [PDF] but is steering clear of a name for the new body at this time.

As he told Lord Justice Leveson at the Inquiry in January,

“I rely on “The Essential Law for Journalists” to point out all the statutory provisions that apply and restrict freedom of the press. I’m not just talking about defamation or the Data Protection Act or the Freedom of Information Act. The list is endless. It’s a massive textbook.”

McNae’s has become “an institution in its own right“, Lord Hunt said on Friday.

Judith Townend is a freelance journalist and PhD researcher examining legal restraints on the media, who runs the Meeja Law blog. She is@jtownend on Twitter.

(Images courtesy of the NCTJ & Inforrm’s Blog, The International Forum for Responsible Media Blog)

Showing a little spine won’t do you any harm, Mr Antony !

The report that Defence Minister A.K. Antony has declined to act against the Chief of Army Staff V.K. Singh because he ‘doesn’t want blood on his hands’ makes for sad reading.

What kind of a defence minister do we have, if he is afraid of blood on his hands? This, almost neurotic, desire to preserve his reputation above every other consideration seems to be the hallmark of Mr Antony’s character.

To this end, he mishandled the date of birth controversy in the first place. Instead of acting decisively on the petitions sent to him by General Singh, Mr Antony preferred masterly inactivity and left it to the Supreme Court to deliver the coup de grace.

This process has led to the embitterment of the General and, no doubt, the various fire-fights he has launched.

There is little use lamenting, as Mr Antony did on Thursday, that whoever leaked General Singh’s letter to the prime minister was ‘antinational.’

He has fulminated that he would go “to the roots and find out” who it was and would not spare those people and take the strongest action against them ‘under Indian law.’

Reportedly, the Intelligence Bureau has been asked to find out who leaked the letter. But we all know that this is empty talk and that such ‘leak inquiries’ seldom yield a useful result.

Mr Antony has let down the country with his spineless leadership of the defence ministry.

There is little in his leadership to commend his presence there as, clearly, he has not even been able to carry out the task he was sent to accomplish in the first place-end the culture of corruption.

With the controversy surrounding porn, coal and exams, isn’t it time we dumped ‘gate’ once and for all?

The law finally caught up with the corrupt public functionary who masterminded a ‘gate’, so goes the story! Sounds funny? It shouldn’t.

Haven’t you noticed some of the recent headlines? There has been an Examgate (an education minister helping his son cheat), Porngate (Karnataka ministers caught watching porn), Porngate Returns (Gujarat legislators watching porn), Memogate (leaked diplomatic memo in Pakistan).

The list is long. Our media added another gem to this list last week with its ‘Coalgate’ (CAG’s draft report over the ‘flawed’ allocation of coal blocks).

The reporter alleged that the MLAs were reportedly watching porn on Chaudhary's iPad while panchayat minister Narottam Patel was answering questions (pictured)So what if such nomenclature makes a potential scam sound like a toothpaste brand!

Wonder why there is this laziness when it comes to newspersons attaching labels to events. Or maybe it is pure and simple aping of the Americans.

Haven’t you also noticed the use of 26/11 or 13/7 to refer to terror incidents in India after the 9/11 attacks on America? Wikipedia has dedicated a whole webpage to the problem – suffixgate!

It lists at least 105 big and small news stories that carried the suffix, ‘gate’.

Coalgate: People carry baskets of coal scavenged illegally at an open-cast mine in the village of Bokapahari in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand To cite an instance of the truly bizzare, a chess grandmaster’s repeated visits to the toilet came to be referred as Toiletgate!

In this age of 24×7 news, when mediapersons are hungry for audiences, they perhaps harbour the hope that attaching ‘gate’ to a scandal will make it hog attention.

Maybe, they await their Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein moment – the duo had broken the original ‘gate’ (Watergate) story.

But it is a blessing that this concerned the Watergate hotel in Washington. Had it taken place at the Ufuk Hotel (in Turkey), French Lick Hotel (US) or Wang Thong Hotel (Thailand), it sure would have made for a risque headline.

After the ‘Kolaveri’ viral comes a John Doe order!

After the ‘Kolaveri’ viral comes a John Doe order! It may sound strange, but the producers of the Dhanush-Shruti Hassan starrer, 3, obtained a gag order against the Internet distribution of the film from the Madras High Court on Thursday.

The court has restrained BSNL and other Internet Service Providers (ISP) from copying and broadcasting the movie or its songs either in full or in parts after a petition was filed. In her order, Justice KBK Vasuki also restrained distribution of the movie through DVD, VCD and YouTube as well as other social networking sites. Further hearing in the case is on April 18.

This is the first of its kind John Doe order from the Madras High Court, granting injunction against anonymous people who might be committing a breach of the rights of the plaintiff.

The John Doe order is well entrenched in the judicial system of the US, Britain, Canada and Australia but is still in its infancy in India.

The film is released in Hindi and Telugu apart from Tamil on Friday (today). The Hindi version is aimed at wooing a larger audience base and has already been sold for an undisclosed sum. 3 generated a lot of pre-release hype with the Tanglish hit ‘Kolaveri Di’ and a reported lip-lock between the lead pair. Now, the makers have turned shy of the Internet after receiving too much publicity.

This came as a surprise as the film’s promotional song ‘Kolaveri Di’ became a national anthem via the Net with more than 50 million hits on YouTube to date. The film marks the coming together of Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan – the two heavy weights of the southern film industry. Kamal’s daughter Shruti Hassan is paired with Dhanush who is married to Rajinikanth’s daughter Aishwarya. The film has been directed by Aishwarya also.

TV Today scoops a dozen at award do as it is praised for its ‘path-breaking work’

The night of the prestigious National Television Awards, 2012, belonged to the TV Today Network as the group walked away with 12 awards on Wednesday.

The network’s English news channel Headlines Today won seven awards, while the Hindi news channel Aaj Tak got three awards.

Dilli Aaj Tak and Tez, the other Hindi channels of the group, bagged one award each at the glittering awards ceremony that took place at The Lalit hotel, New Delhi. The channel scooped up awards in categories ranging from hard news and investigative journalism to entertainment.

The Headlines Today show, Saas And The City, won the Best Entertainment News Show award for its episode ‘Revisiting Ramayan’, while Denzil O’Connell bagged the Best Entertainment News Anchor award.

The channel also won an award for the Best Use Of Graphics In A Promo.

Aaj Tak won the Best Promo For A Channel award for ‘Badal Gaya India’ and the trophy for Best Current Affairs Programme (Home And International) for Doctoron Ki D-Company.

It also won a special award for the Anna/Lokpal show, which gave an extensive coverage on the Lokpal Bill.

Dilli Aaj Tak won an award for the promos of ‘Aapka Chunnav’ campaign while Tez bagged the trophy for Best Entertainment News Show for its show, Dhoondte Reh Jaoge.