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Encyclopedia of Journalism

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Encyclopedia of Journalism

Christopher H. Sterling

Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412972048 | Print ISBN: 9780761929574 | Online ISBN: 9781412972048 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.

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Indecency and Obscenity

Robin M. Gallagher

Who can say what about sex in print or on air is of enduring concern to journalists because every new means of communication is accompanied by some complaint about its misuse. Knowledge of the definitions of and laws governing obscene and/or indecent speech is thus fundamental to news stories about how or why any medium should be restrained. Moreover, and regardless of the mode, a familiarity with the restrictions is vital to journalists covering the entertainment industry. Rare is the occasion that some individual or group has not lodged a news-making objection to sexual content that film or television produces. But objectively reporting these stories can be challenging. Because a broad interpretation of the First Amendment is the news industry's lodestar, the tendency is to report moral complaint as a statement of opinion or plea for censorship rather than an appeal for enforcement of existing law. Also, the jurisprudence governing ...

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