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McNae's Essential Law for Journalists

Twenty-fourth edition

Mike Dodd and Mark Hanna

June 2018

ISBN: 9780198809579

544 pages

In Stock

Price: £25.99

Published in partnership with the NCTJ: the essential companion for students and professionals.



The only media law text published in partnership with the NCTJ, McNae's Essential Law for Journalists provides unparalleled treatment of the core legal issues affecting journalists. Clear, succinct, and practical, it is the absolute handbook for students and practising journalists.

  • Updated by authors with reporting and teaching experience, combining their broad expertise to offer practical, clear, and accurate detail on vital areas of the law
  • Up-to-date case studies and examples help contextualize difficult areas for readers new to the subject and assist assessment preparation
  • Remember points throughout the text highlight complex areas and provide tips for reporting, ensuring that readers understand how to balance their legal obligations with breaking news, while the Remember your rights feature provides advice from the authors on asserting rights
  • The only media law text published in partnership with the NCTJ, and designed to match accredited syllabi. This text is also recommended for a broad range of media qualifications, and is an indispensable companion for professionals working in industry
  • This book is accompanied by online resources including regular legal updates and self-test questions to help students check their understanding

New to this edition

  • How journalists can avoid unjustified intrusion into privacy and report ethically in the public interest
  • Arguments court reporters can use to uphold the open justice principle against invalid or unnecessary reporting restrictions
  • The need for journalists take steps to prevent any surveillance by state agencies revealing the identities of confidential sources
  • Guidance from the chief coroner on media coverage of inquests

About the Author(s)

Mike Dodd, Legal Editor, Press Association and member of the NCTJ Media Law Examinations Board, and Mark Hanna, Senior Lecturer, University of Sheffield and Chair of the NCTJ Media Law Examinations Board

Mike Dodd is the Press Association's legal editor and a member of the NCTJ's Media Law Examinations Board. He is a qualified lawyer with nearly 50 years' experience as a working journalist.

Mark Hanna is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sheffield and Chair of the NCTJ Media Law Examinations Board. He was an award-winning crime and investigations reporter.

Table of Contents

    Part 1: The Landscape of Law, Ethics and Regulation
    1: Introduction
    2: Press regulation
    3: Broadcast regulation
    4: News-gathering avoiding unjustified intrusion
    Part 2: Crime, Courts and Tribunals
    5: Crime - media coverage prior to any court case
    6: Crimes - categories and definitions
    7: Magistrates' courts - summary cases
    8: Magistrates' courts - the most serious criminal cases
    9: Crown courts and appeal courts
    10: Juveniles in court proceedings
    11: Sexual offences, human trafficking and female genital mutilation
    12: Court reporting - other restrictions
    13: Civil courts
    14: Family courts
    15: Open justice and access to court information
    16: Challenging the courts
    17: Coroners' courts
    18: Tribunals and public inquiries
    19: Contempt of court
    Part 3: Defamation and Related Law
    20: Defamation - definitions and dangers
    21: The claimant and what must be proved
    22: Defences
    23: The public interest defence
    24: The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
    25: Slander, malicious falsehood and obscenity
    Part 4: Confidentiality, Privacy and Copyright
    26: Breach of confidence
    27: Privacy
    28: Data protection
    29: Copyright
    Part 5: Information and Expression
    30: The Freedom of Information Act 2000
    31: Other information rights and access to meetings
    32: Reporting elections
    33: Official secrets
    34: The journalist's sources and neutrality
    35: The risks of being charged with bribery, misconduct, hacking or intercepting
    36: The right to take photographs, film and record
    37: Northern Ireland
    Part 6: Online Chapters
    38: The incitement of hate
    39: Scotland
    40: Terrorism and the effect of counter-terrorism law


"This textbook is called "essential" for a reason. It is still the go-to law textbook for journalists and journalism students." - Kate Heathman, Journalism Lecturer, Liverpool John Moores University

"Reliable, clearly illustrated and thoughtfully presented." - Ian Bucknell, Senior Teaching Fellow in Journalism, University of Leeds

"Described in the journalism industry as the "Bible", with good reason. McNae's has, for decades, been a constant companion of working journalists." - Kevin Duffy, Lecturer in Journalism, University Of Central Lancashire

"This has always been - and still is - THE most important book for any journalist in the UK." - Nigel Green, crime reporter, investigative journalist, and Associate Principal Lecturer in Journalism at Leeds Trinity University

"An invaluable book for every journalism student grappling with how to write legally and ethically safe stories." - Dave Porter, Lecturer in Journalism, Manchester Metropolitan University

"Essential text for any journalism student and a must for anyone taking the NCTJ media law exams." - Bernie Saunders, Senior Lecturer in Media Law and Journalism, University of Portsmouth

"Important detail is clearly signposted. The law is explained with clarity in a way that is relevant to journalists. Legal jargon is explained. It is equally relevant to students and working journalists. McNae's gets it right , and in truth I’d be lost without it." - Karen Nicholson, Lecturer, Nottingham Trent University

"It is the go-to quick reference text, designed to be of practical use." - David Acheson, Lecturer in Media Law, University of Kent

"It is the journalists' "Bible"." - Dr David Clarke, Reader in Journalism and Media Law, Sheffield Hallam University'

"A book that every student on a journalism programme should invest in - and it is one that any working journalist should keep in their desk." - Dr David Baines, Senior Lecturer in Journalism, Newcastle University

Additional Resources

This book is accompanied by online resources, including:
- Self-test questions
- Online chapters cover topics such as family courts and defences
- Additional materials on each chapter explore the subject matter in greater depth