Books -- Telling It All: A Legal Guide to the Exercise of Free Speech by Harold W. Fuson Jr

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* Fuson, Harold W. Jr. (1995). Telling It All: A Legal Guide to the Exercise of Free Speech. Kansas City, Mo.: Andrews and McMeel. 118 pp. Paperback, $8.95.

Many journalism educators have long felt a need for a small, easy-to-read book on freedom of speech and the press. Telling It AII: A Legal Guide to the Exercise of Free Speech will be a welcome addition to their bookshelves. The 118-page handbook on legal risks for journalists is written in the layman's language.

The book, by Harold W. Fuson Jr. general counsel for Copley Newspapers, is for those who exercise their right to free speech and a free press but are unsure how far they can go. Fuson states in his introduction, "This book may be skewed toward the problems of the pros, especially journalists, but its goal is to offer practical advice." The book's emphasis "on techniques for surviving deadline emergencies, not leisurely lectures laden with legal citations" explains in part why the book is rarely cluttered with book or case citations.

The book devotes more space to libel than any other topic. This is hardly a surprise because libel is "the bane of communicators and perhaps the most complex area of media law." A chapter on "Basic Libel Principles" examines almost every libel issue facing journalists. In a chapter on "Common Libel Problems," the author provides "practical warnings and solutions" for those who are not sufficiently familiar with libel law.

The right of privacy is discussed in varying degrees through several chapters. "False light" is covered in the first chapter on libel because it is "almost indistinguishable" from libel. "Appropriation" is discussed in the property rights chapter, and "intrusion" is included in the news-gathering chapter. The "public disclosure of private facts" is examined in Chapter 3. A chapter on news-gathering addresses the legal consequences that arise from trespassing, intrusion, crossing police lines, electronic eavesdropping, and working undercover. Access to information is taken up in Chapter 5. The author's discussion is not limited to access to government meetings and records. …