Are Expose Filmmakers Journalists?

Posted: December 2nd, 2013









Subject: Are Expose Filmmakers Journalists?

Journalism is a field that has undergone tumultuous change in every part of the globe. With the advancement in technology escalating at a rapid rate, the dissemination of information has become relatively simple and achievable. The technology change has provided any person the power to investigate and report events that are crucial to the public. A perfect example that can illustrate this is the documentary film by Joe Berlinger, Crude. The film reports oil spills in the Ecuadorian forests by the multinational enterprise, Chevron. Using such evidence, the Ecuadorian government filed a lawsuit to sue the company for US $ 28 billion. This caused Chevron to file for a subpoena to access the video in which the courts allowed.

In order to secure a fair ground for both plaintiff and defendant, it is important for both sides to be up to date with communication statutes that govern the use of media to disseminate information. The fact that the courts decided to subpoena evidence that is useful to the Ecuadorian government influences me to support the corporation. This is because the communication laws in the United States govern the use of subpoenas on such materials. For a successful conclusion of litigation, the subpoena should be granted in cases where the information from non-media sources proves useful, according to civil cases (Keller, Levine and Goodale, 201). This provision allows the court to offer permission to the firm to analyze the media since it is not supported by media laws because the information was not from a reporter.

Secondly, despite the filmmaker rejecting the subpoena based in the provision of the reporters’ privilege by the First Amendment, the court still had the power to issue the recommendation. Reporters’ privilege protects reporters from being coerced to provide their sources or confidential information. This provision protects the reporters against subpoenas issued against them. However, the court rejected the filmmaker’s appeal based on the privilege. This is because the statute applies to reporters only (Keller, Levine and Goodale, 223). Since the filmmaker was not a reporter, the provision did not cover him and thus issuing a subpoena against him was legal and affirmative. Moreover, the subpoena would provide Chevron with the chance to scrutinize the allegations.

Thirdly, Chevron had the automated privilege to request for the 600-hour video of the film despite the filmmaker’s argument based on journalistic privilege. Still, the journalistic privileges regarding the issuance of subpoenas assert that subpoenas should only be availed whereby significant evidence is to be obtained by the accused. The main reason for Chevron requesting for the subpoena against the documentary was based on a finding at a public screening. In the public screening, attorneys asserted that some crucial and informative scenes were removed from the digital versatile disk edition of the documentary. Additionally, the scenes from the screening portrayed an illegitimate agreement between the environmental expert appointed by the court and the plaintiffs (Wood, 2010).

Chevron also had the privilege to request for the use of subpoena on the video despite journalistic privilege. This is because the company and its legal representatives were facing criminal charges (Wood, 2010). Based on the United States criminal laws, every person has the right to a fair trial hence deeming the individual innocent until proved otherwise. This privilege granted the multinational corporation the right to defend themselves from the pending case, which would cause them massive amounts of money amounting to US $ 28 billion to settle the lawsuit. Moreover, the removal of some of the outtakes from the documentary indicate misconduct on the part of the filmmaker since all evidence should not be bias and should display all events.

The most probable reason for the filmmaker and his lawyers for filing such a lawsuit on the multinational corporation revolve around the effect of such information on the firm’s public relations. This is because such information damages the firm’s image, which reduces customer confidence. Hence, the firm will be forced to settle exclusively with the filmmaker. However, it is appropriate for the firm to fight for its legal position in order to defend its allegations against fraud on the part of the filmmaker and the lawyers.











Work Cited

Carter Wood. “After ‘Crude’ Ruling, Trial Lawyers Suing Chevron Get Nervous.” Shopfloor. National Association of Manufacturers, 19 Jul. 2010. Web. 5 Nov. 2012.

Keller, Bruce P, Lee Levine, and James C. Goodale. Communications Law in the Digital Age, 2010. New York, NY: Practising Law Institute, 2010. Print.













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