For the past week, my life has been consumed by one thing and one thing only: media law. And with an exam in the subject fast approaching, that doesn’t look likely to change any time soon!
Law is taught in a two hour lecture every Monday afternoon, followed by a seminar in which we have the dubious pleasure of being able to apply our new knowledge to exam questions. The aim is simple, to learn how not to get sued in the workplace. As it turns out there are many, many things for which a journalist can be sued. We’ve covered an awful lot of them since the beginning of term: defamation, contempt of court, sexual offences, breach of confidence, copyright. Just thinking about it all makes me want to lie down in a darkened room, not sit an exam paper on my knowledge.
Undeniably useful though it may be, law is by no means my favourite module. It can be boring at times, but the theory is livened up by examples, often featuring our Hands-On tutor as a fictional murderess (sorry, alleged murderess). Our lecturer also enjoys telling us about his own run-ins with the law, including massive payouts, injunctions, and the time that he was followed home by a threatening black car after refusing to retract an article. And his job is to teach us how not to get sued!
The main problem is that it’s so specific. My exam answers will have to be precisely-worded to pick up the top marks, with four marks sometimes being awarded for remembering one four word phrase. Memorising these phrases means spending a lot of quality time with my textbook, McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists. When I develop a hunchback from the weight of my bag, I shall blame this law exam for forcing me to drag that book back and forth to university every day (because everyone knows that train time is reading time). But hopefully, this way I can avoid failing and having to fork out fifty pounds for a resit. And with that said, I must get back to learning the exact wording of the Contempt of Court Act 1981. Wish me luck!