Welcome to this section of the course on Media Law. In module three, we dealt with Freedom of Information Law, but in this section of the course, we're going to look mainly at Defamation Law, and the Law of Contempt of Court. We'll be drawing on Australian law which is derived from British law but the principles apply in most western democracies. I'll be going to begin by looking at an issue which is not strictly legal but which is an important related issue, that of Impartiality. And what it means is that when we are engaged in news journalism, news reporting as opposed to commentary, then we don't take sides when we're researching or presenting the story. We present the material without fear or favour. And we base our decisions on a detached assessment of the available evidence, the available facts. Now, there's been a lot of debate over recent years about whether impartiality is really achievable and sometimes people talk about this as objectivity. Now I think objectivity is a much more difficult idea and so I prefer impartiality because I believe you can break it down into its constituent elements. And you can make some assessment about impartiality based upon the elements and I'm going to take you through those elements now. There were seven of them I think. And there they are listed there. Accuracy, fairness, balance, context, absence of conflict of interest, open-mindedness and decisions based on news values. Those news value we talked about much earlier on the course. Let's go through these one at a time. Firstly, the Accuracy. It's difficult if you think about it, to be impartial if you've got your facts wrong because plainly you have misrepresented the position in some way. So accuracy is the first requirement, and it refers to getting the facts correct, basic plain facts, dates, names, nature of events, and so on. Fairness means presenting subjects of stories in a way that deals with the people and subject matter proportionately, civilly, honestly, comprehensively, without conscious exploitation or stereotypical labeling. And so far as possible in accordance with the principles of natural justice. It doesn't mean just being nice to people. Balance means covering all principle relevant perspectives of a story. Further over time a rounded picture of these varies perspectives emerges. Balance my be achieved either within a single item or over a number of items and over a period of time. This depends on the nature, complexity, and longevity of debate about an issue. And balance should follow the weight of evidence. Context means presenting material in a way that honestly and is comprehensively as possible. Takes into account the factual basis of the subject matter. Factors that alter face value of the fact, background of the issue, the environment in which events happened or statements were made, spirit in which events happened or statements were made. Our decision making should be independent of interests that might affect our judgment in unethical ways. The commonest of these is conflict of interest. This occurs when journalists or their employer have a material interest in the subject matter on which they're reporting. Material interest may be of a financial, or a non-financial nature. And conflict of interest also occurs when a journalist becomes a participant in the story. If you have a conflict, at least declare it. Even then, it might not remove the conflict, but at least you've been honest with your audience. Open-mindedness means that a journalist covering the story sets aside pre-existing conscious prejudice against or in favor of certain people or interests involved in the story, and avoids such a prejudice in the course of preparing the story. News values are those qualities that justify the selection or non selection of materials as news. By other primary bases for proper editorial decision making. News values include magnitude, shock, conflict, negativity and proximity, both geographic and cultural.