Tech Writer Lawsuit; STC position? (take III)

Subject: Tech Writer Lawsuit; STC position? (take III)
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: techwr-l List <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Tammy Van Boening <Tammy -dot- VanBoening -at- healthlanguage -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 21 May 2008 11:31:06 -0400

Tammy Van Boening wondered: <<I am just wondering - legally, does STC
have a leg to stand on this last request, specifically in regards to
providing an interview? I am locally elected officer in an at will
public professional group. As long as I specifically state the
opinions are mine and do not reflect the STC's in any way, I don't
see how legally they can make this request of members - membership
and serving your local chapter doesn't seem to give STC the blatant
right to censure what one says.>>

STC is only asking that you do what you said: make it clear that you
are speaking as a private individual and not on behalf of STC. It
certainly has the right to do so, and possibly a legal right to
prosecute you if you misleadingly appear to be speaking on their
behalf. The latter part is the problem:

Yes, you could certainly express an opinion as a private individual,
but you'd be unwise to do so. It's not that you should be afraid to
speak your mind, but rather that you should be afraid of being
misquoted or misattributed. The media have a dismal record of getting
the facts right and communicating nuances such as "this is my opinion
only". I would expect that at least one reporter will refer to you as
"STC officer Tammy..."

Is this a jaded opinion of the media? Yup, but not unrealistic. I
used to have considerable respect for reporters until I encountered a
series of glaring factual errors and misattributions in areas where I
had personal experience. In one case (that of a school friend who was
killed by terrorists while hiking in Peru), at least two different
news agencies got his name, the country, and the identities of the
likely killers wrong. As you can imagine, this was my wakeup call
about the reliability of the media.

-- Geoff Hart
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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RE: Tech Writer Lawsuit; STC position? (take II): From: Tammy Van Boening

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