Libel & Slander

Libel and Slander are both terms used to describe defamation. Defamation is the communication of a false statement that ends up harming the reputation of an individual, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation. Defamation is against the law and legal action can be used against the participants of the crime.

Common law jurisdictions distinguish two types of defamation. One of them being slander which usually involves the making of a defamatory statements by a transitory representation, usually oral representation. The other type, Libel, involved the making of defamatory statements in a printed or other fixed medium, such as a magazine or newspaper. For each type to be defamatory, the statement must be “published” to a third party, either written or orally. Damages are typically to the reputation of the ones doing the defamation. Depending on the severity and laws of the jurisdiction it may be enough to establish mental anguish of the plaintiff.

Commencing a defamation action is not a good idea. For one, people who are targeted by lies may be angry enough to file a lawsuit. The lawsuit would in turn hurt the credibility of the individual, company, group, etc committing the defamation. The publicity that results from the lawsuit can create a much greater audience than the false statements previously generated. Another big issue is that defamation cases tend to be difficult to win, and damage awards tend to be small. As a result of this, it is unusual for attorneys to be willing to take on defamation cases. In almost every defamation case, the plaintiff will win because the ones claiming the false statements have no proof to prove it otherwise true. If the defamation case is taken to court and the plaintiff wins, the damages done to the ones who committed the defamation are exponential. Ranging from a financial stand point to credibility. People assume that defamation applied to only newspapers and other media outlets but individuals can find themselves as the defendant in a defamation lawsuit in more mundane situations. Although it may prove difficult in court to prove that the false statement caused harm to the plaintiff, the law will actually assume that there was damage done to the individual’s reputation.

It is easy to avoid becoming involved in libel and slander, simply be careful before making accusations about another person to a third party that could arguably impute a crime or hurt the integrity of an individual. While the defendant might believe that their statement is true, telling them to a third party could get them sued. Check sources thoroughly before making an accusation. A source can have a vendetta against the subject and willfully or unintentionally misrepresent facts. Do not rely on someone else to be accurate. Also, never let your opinion about someone who is a public figure or official color your decision to verify accuracy of a story. They could be lying to further their career and damage someone else’s. Be cautious when editing and make sure the story does not convey the wrong information or misrepresents information. If contacted by someone threatening to file a libel or slander suit, be polite, but no not admit error or fault. Take to an editor, supervisor or attorney immediately and follow procedures established by the company. Lastly, as a general rule of thumb, always think before you speak.

(Photo Credit: Google)


The Secret Power of Headlines

The most important part of the story an editor can write is the headline. The headline contain essential words that convey the meaning and subject of the story to the reader. The headline is usually abstract and short, only containing about 5-10 words. It is a complete thought and has a subject, verb and more than often an object. The goal of the headline is to grab the reader and further interest them in reading the story.

There are a few essential steps one must complete in order to write a headline. The most important rule one must know for writing a headline is that the words in a headline must represent what is in the story accurately. Accuracy counts about all else. To write a headline the writer must understand the story completely before writing the headline. In my personal experience, I always write the story first before I write the headline. Another key point is to base the headline on the main idea or meaning of the story, which should be in the lead of introduction. It is also frowned upon to repeat the exact wording that is in the story in the headline. The headline should be related to the story, not a part of it. Headline should not be ambiguous, insinuations or hold double meanings.

The words you choose to use in your headline also are very important. The words used should be specific, accurate, clear and concise. One will want to avoid unclear phrases and abbreviations. Key words should also not be repeated in the same headline. No headline should start with a verb, they need to be complete sentences or imply complete sentences. A linking verb can be implied instead of spelled out. The tense in which a verb is used can be important. If a story is about past or present events, on should use present tense verbs. Likewise, if a story is about future events, use the infinitive verb such as “to work” or “to leave”. Verbs such as is, are, was and were should not be included in a headline. Another key thing one should know is to use punctuation sparingly. Do not waste space with the conjunction “and.” Instead it is advised to use a comma in its place.

Web headlines are equally if not more important than a written headline in a paper or magazine. As with any news story, a strong headline is vital for a web story. Web headlines are often found in lists of links where the reader is not introduced to the actual story. If the headline does not sell the story and encourage the reader to click and read more, the reader is likely to navigate away from the story and move on to the next. Web headlines should be coherent for search engines favor coherent words. Headlines can be essential to search engine optimization, which draws traffic to your website.

Headlines, like poetry and songs, need to have a certain rhythm about them. They must be clear, concise and straight to the point but still say enough to keep the reader interested.

The Importance of Typography

The awareness of how popularity and importance of typography has grown within the mainstream culture of today’s society. Typography is the art and technique of type design. It is the driving force behind all forms of communication. Many times people underestimate the true affect and role typography plays in our everyday lives although it is all around like on our clothing apparel, billboards, posters, graffiti and so forth.

There is no denying that typography plays a key role in making any graphic design successful. All design is 95% typography. It helps business stand out from one another. Designs may give them a visual instantiation of the brand but the selection of typeface plays an equally important part as does color, images, or graphics. It allows the designer to be creative and stand out from other. Typography is becoming key in advertising. There have been a significantly large increase in the amount of advertisements that use typography to get their message across. These advertisements have been proven very successful because they leave an impression in the minds of the consumers. It influences how readers process information and engages the consumer.

Typography is also a key element in web design. The way the text is presented is essential readers want the information they are looking for as quickly as possible. So web designers have to take into consideration the font, point size, color and line length of the text for it has to be visually appealing and readable. It has a huge impact on multiple aspects of the website including mood, perceived article length, user experience and more. Designers have to know and understand the different principles of typography before creating a web page in order to properly display vision and mood of the site.

Designers sometimes focus more on typography than they do the literal message because typography speaks louder than the words themselves. Designers are now exploring the visual impact of type rather than the extent of the verbal. Typography has taken control of the meaning behind the words. It can bring into play not only emotions of the reader but also physical responses for typography is used to inspire and shape design in order to get the message across, with the goal of making the viewer’s react. Mixing a design with literal meaning can lead to memorable outcomes. Typography can be aesthetically pleasing as well as functional at the same time.

Typography works alongside verbal language to create, enhance, and alter meanings of it. While the literal meaning is always important, the significance of type in influencing meaning should not be underestimated. It is the role of the designer to establish a tone that adds meaning to the verbal message and this cannot be done without typography. There is a lot of work that goes into typography and it can either make or break a design. It is an art and skill that takes time and practice to master, but it is one of the most powerful tools than can be used in designs.

(Photo Credit: Google)