Law and Ethics for Today's Journalist: A Concise Guide

Law and Ethics for Today's Journalist: A Concise Guide
By Joe Mathewson

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Product Description

Law and Ethics for Today's Journalist offers aspiring and working journalists the practical understanding of law and ethics they must have to succeed at their craft. Instead of covering every nuance of media law for diverse communications majors, Mathewson focuses exclusively on what's relevant for journalists. Even though media law and media ethics are closely linked together in daily journalistic practice, they are usually covered in separate volumes. Mathewson brings them together in a clear and colourful way that practicing journalists will find more useful. Everything a journalist needs to know about legal protections, limitations, and risks inherent in workaday reporting is illustrated with highlights from major court opinions.

Mathewson advises journalists who must often make ethical decisions on the spot with no time for the elaborate, multi-faceted analysis. The book assigns to journalists the hard decisions on ethical questions such as whether to go undercover or otherwise misrepresent themselves in order to get a big story. The ethics chapter precedes the law chapters because ethical standards should underlie a journalist's work at all times. There may be occasions when ethics and law are not parallel, thus calling for the journalist to make a personal judgment. Law and Ethics for Today's Journalist is user-friendly, written in clear, direct, understandable language on issues that really matter to a working journalist. Supplementary reading of the actual court cases is recommended and links to most cases are provided in the text. The text includes a fine (but purposely not exhaustive) bibliography listing important and useful legal cases, including instructive appellate and trial court opinions, state as well as federal.

Product Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #138210 in Books
  • Brand: Joe Mathewson
  • Published on: 2013-11-01
  • Released on: 2015-02-05
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 9.00" h x .55" w x 6.00" l, .80 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 240 pages


  • Law and Ethics for Today s Journalist

Editorial Reviews


"Mathewson's Law and Ethics for Today's Journalist is long overdue--featuring concise, practical coverage of media law and ethics that journalism instructors have been searching for. No longer will I have to adapt texts created mainly for law students to suit a class of journalists in training. The landmark First Amendment cases are here, as are the big ideas and ethical dilemmas reporters are bound to face on the ground. The research is thorough, the writing is clear, and students will learn plenty." -- Dick Lehr, Boston University

"Law and Ethics for Today's Journalist covers the essential areas of journalism law including libel, privacy, and access while retaining a sense of broader media law context. With universities moving toward merged law and ethics courses, Mathewson effectively tackles the challenge of creating a text that adequately serves both areas by paring down and sharpening the content to the most relevant information." -- Jason A. Martin, DePaul University

"Mathewson's book is well-written and concise, making its discussions of important journalism cases accessible to the average journalism student. Its focus on practical legal and ethical advice for the working journalist also makes it an excellent choice for any professor teaching a combined ethics and law class to journalism students." -- Derigan Silver, University of Denver

"Mathewson provides an excellent summary of legal issues that can affect working journalists ... Written from a working journalist's perspective, the book offers a pragmatic approach to the legal conundrums reporters and editors might face while pursuing stories. Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates, professionals, general readers." -- Choice

About the Author

Joe Mathewson teaches courses in the ethics and law of journalism in the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. As a former Supreme Court correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, he is author of The Supreme Court and the Press: The Indispensable Conflict (2011, Northwestern University Press). He’s a contributor to, having written pieces on Chicago-based Supreme Court cases involving prominent lawyers. In Chicago, Mathewson covered business for The Wall Street Journal, was a WBBM-TV reporter, and served as press secretary to Illinois Gov. Richard B. Ogilvie. He authored a book on Chicago politics, Up Against Daley (1974), as well as op-eds and Sunday magazine articles for the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times. He has been a Cook County commissioner, a director of several community banks, an officer of a minority-owned broker-dealer, and a securities arbitrator for the National Association of Securities Dealers. Mathewson has degrees from Dartmouth and the University of Chicago Law School, and did graduate work in European politics and economies at the Bologna (Italy) Center of John Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. He has served ten years as a trustee of Dartmouth College.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
1One Star
By Amazon Customer
Not very clear. Had to re-read paragraphs multiple times to grasp concepts.

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4Four Stars
By kristine bourret
Was what my son needed for a class.

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
2Two Stars
By Arthur
I have to read sentences multiple times before I understand what Mathewson is trying to say.

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