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June 6, 2014

60 years of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists celebrated with launch of 22nd edition

By Dominic Ponsford

The National Council for the Training of Journalists last night celebrated 60 years of journalists’ media law bible McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists with the launch of the 22nd edition.

Speaking at a launch reception in London’s Middle Temple, lawyer David Price said: “What a great title. Essential, no flimflam, no unnecessary academic discussion of esoteric legal questions, just what you need in as concise a form as possible.  In 1954 it took 172 pages to distil this essence, in 2014 its 493, but the blame for that is, of course, to be attributed to the law, as opposed to the journalists or indeed the learned authors.”

He also said: “How many journalists armed with McNae been able to challenge a court’s decision to withhold information from the public?  Because every time there is a new threat to free speech, and there have been many recently and there will be more from humourless judges or politicians who just don’t get it, a journalist has to find a way round, a way to keep the public informed. 

“What gets me to work in the morning is the belief that with enough skill and creativity we can find solutions to help journalists avoid the many pitfalls that have been set for them. And that is the spirit in which this book has always been written.”

The latest edition of McNae is edited by Press Association media editor Mike Dodd and University of Sheffield journalism lecturer Mark Hanna.

The latest edition includes new coverage on bribery, misconduct in public office and phone-hacking, new court rules about journalists’ access to case material, new coroners’ rules and their impact on covering inquests and new reporting restrictions covering preliminary hearings at magistrates’ courts. The Defamation Act 2013 is also covered in detail.

The NCTJ has a special report on 60 years of McNae's on its website.

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