McNae's Essential Law for Journalists 25th edition celebrated ahead of publication

The authors and publishers of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists have celebrated the upcoming 25th edition in a video released by the NCTJ today.

Almost 70 years since the first edition was published, McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists remains the definitive media law guide for journalists and students alike.

The 25th edition, which is co-authored by Mike Dodd and Mark Hanna, will be published tomorrow, 26 June.

Mike, who works as PA Media’s legal editor, is a qualified lawyer with nearly 50 years’ experience in journalism.

Speaking in the video, he said: “This latest edition of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists is something of a milestone.

“It’s the 25th edition in a series which started almost 70 years ago and I’m very pleased to have been co-author with my friend Mark Hanna.”

Mark, who is a senior teacher in Sheffield University’s journalism department and chief examiner and chair of the NCTJ media law examinations board, said: “Mike and I have been working hard to update the book for the new edition.

“There are updates on privacy law, updates on defamation law, updates on the law of contempt of court, including case studies on the two Tommy Robinson cases.”

Nancy Fielder, editor of The Star in Sheffield, offered her support for the book, saying: “McNae’s was the first book I was recommended to buy as a student journalist 20 years ago and it is the only book that I’ve had continually at my side throughout my journalism career.”

Paul Wiltshire, journalism course leader at the University of Gloucestershire, also sent his congratulations. He said: “I’d like to wish Mike and Mark the very best of luck with their new edition.

“It’s a development that we always look forward to every other summer, it’s the one book that we give our students for free.”

Before the coronavirus restrictions were put in place, the new edition was due to be celebrated at a launch hosted by Doughty Street Chambers.

Heather Rogers QC, said: “A new edition of McNae’s is excellent news. It's an indispensable guide for journalists and media lawyers. Practical, readable, and right up to date.

“If you want to know how the law works (and how it doesn't) in practice, Essential Law for Journalists is a must.”

Lucy Read, senior commissioning editor at Oxford University Press, said: “Oxford University Press is proud to publish McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists and to be associated with a book which is so well respected by students and journalists alike.

“We’d like to send our congratulations to the National Council for the Training of Journalists on the publication of this, the 25th edition.”

Joanne Butcher, chief executive of the NCTJ, said: “Thank you to the authors, I know in some ways it’s a labour of love but it’s also a massive amount of work.

“They are the reason that this book is so important for professionally trained and qualified journalists.”

Among updates in the new edition is explanation of the change this year in court rules which should make it easier for reporters to get written evidence and mitigation documents from 'single justice procedure' (SJP) cases dealt with by magistrates in England and Wales.

The rule change followed lobbying by a media working group, which includes Hanna and Dodd. The SJP is a 'private' process, which the press and public are not allowed to attend. 

In the latest edition, Hanna and Dodd criticise the expansion of the cost-cutting SJP as "an extraordinary departure from the open justice principle fostered in the UK's common law over the centuries", pointing out that cases involving politicians and celebrities using a mobile phone when driving, or speeding, could largely disappear "into the shadows of the SJP" if the plea is guilty.

The new edition can be pre-ordered from the NCTJ’s online shop at the reduced price of £20.99 (RRP £25.99).