Ask An Expert

Have a question? ¬†We’ll be glad to try to get you an answer. Ask your question below — we’ll only use your question on our site if you give us permission. Otherwise, we’ll call or email you back with an answer.
(Click here to view all Ask an Expert Posts)

Ask an expert

Ask an expert

Drop a file here or click to upload Choose File
Maximum upload size: 52.43MB
Upload any files you'd like us to look at as part of your question

About You

Even if you don't want to be identified when we post the answer online later, we'd like to know who you are.
If we think others can benefit from this question, we'll post it to our site. Let us know if you don't want your name used.

Ask An Expert

Can the city charge a vendor fee to our freelancer for shooting pictures at a public event?

A freelance photographer has been helping me out for a few months at the weekly paper I run. We don’t have money to pay him, so he gives us photos and then sells them on his website after we get first publication choices. The city is now telling him, rather harshly, that if he shoots

Can an organization refuse advertising from anyone it chooses?

Full question: A 501(c)(3) foundation publishes a travel guide that my newspaper designs and prints. The foundation has prevented some businesses from advertising because of bad business histories. Now a disgruntled former advertiser is threatening a lawsuit because he says he is not being treated equally by being prevented from advertising. Does a private business

Do we need to do anything at the post office if we’re not going to publish one week?

“We are toying with the idea of shutting down the entire first week of July and not running a paper. A lot of groups (us included) do this on the last week of the year but this would be the first time we have done it twice. The idea is to give our people two

Can I use a Facebook photo in a news story without permission?

Update: The post below led to a research project regarding fair use and photographs taken from social networks and used for news purposes. The results largely confirmed the suspicions of this post, that using a photo is not fair use, with some exceptions. The article was published in the Journal of Telecommunications and High Technology

Is a school district allowed/required to release information about student transfers?

Yes, a school district is allowed, and very likely should be required under the Public Information Act, to release information about student transfers as long as it does not release information with individually identifiable information about students. Educational records generally are exempt from disclosure under the Texas Public Information Act [Texas Gov’t Code § 552.026]. 

How can I integrate someone else’s Twitter posts into my site?

If you’re wanting to integrate someone else’s Tweets into your website there are a couple of options, some of which are quite easy and others that will require some technical know-how. Here are 5 easy options: Embed Twitter’s official widget. This widget is intended to embed your own tweets into a site but it works

Should community newspapers consider going nonprofit?

I think it’s clear that non-profit options are going to be part of at least the short-term future of community media (I’d be suspicious of anyone who purports to predict the long-term future). We have seen a recent proliferation of journalism supported by philanthropy and/or public donations — mostly, if not entirely, on a metro

Customers are pulling ads in the newspaper to advertise on digital billboards. How can we “fire back”?

Whenever you come up against your clients moving ad dollars to another medium, you need to ask them a few questions and ask yourself some questions, too. The questions For the advertiser who has added or moved ad dollars to other media, begin by asking: “What do you hope to accomplish by using ___?” Your advertiser

What can the City Council call an executive session for under Texas law?

The Texas Open Meetings Act (Texas Local Gov’t Code section 551.001 et seq.) requires that meetings of government bodies be open unless a certain exception in the act applies.  These exceptions include consultation with its attorney about “pending or contemplated litigation” [Texas Local Gov’t Code section 551.071(1)(A)], discussions about purchasing property if it may adversely

Do you ever send your sales representatives out as a collection agency?

When an account is 60-days past due, accounting takes a copy of the statement to the advertising sales manager and she or the sales representative call the past-due advertiser and put them on a “cash only” basis and try to encourage the customer to pay a portion of the past due with their cash payment

Two high school football players failed a narcotics screening. Can we run a story about it and what are the limitations?

Yes, news media can safely publish information about student-athletes without violating the law. However, publishers may run into some legal difficulties based on the sources of their information.  The First Amendment, with very few exceptions, protects the publication of truthful information.  Even when somebody engages in an unlawful act, such as illegally recording a private

Is there a ‘law’ that says we have to print the name of the writer of a letter to the editor?

Newspapers and other print media have no legal duty to publish the name of any author or source.  Publishers have broad discretion to make decisions about what to print.  The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the importance of such editorial discretion in ensuring the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press: “A newspaper is