The news story a. gives readers the chills
Threats of lawsuits or other punishments cause people to self-censor their own speech or writing
Fear of press coverage and public discussion cause government officials and agencies to hide their actions
Too much press coverage of an issue chills governmental effectiveness
Defamation is the publication of material that would tend to hold one up to hatred, ridicule, contempt, or spite.
Libel law protects the reputational interests of individuals.
Reputational rights are explicitly recognized by the Constitution.
In addition to Constitutional law, state constitutions and common law play a role in libel law.
Establishing truth of the statement is primarily part of the defense's case.
Establishing the falsity of the statement is primarily part of the plaintiff's case
If a statement is proven to be false, it need not be harmful to the plaintiff's reputation to be actionable.
Before New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964), the burden of proof to establish the falsity of a defamatory published statement was on the plaintiff.
Determining the defamatory nature of a statement hinges on whether the recipients of the statement would interpret the words to be defamatory
It is enough that the communication would tend to prejudice the plaintiff in the eyes of a substantial and respectable minority of recipients
It is not enough that the communication would tend to prejudice the plaintiff in the eyes of a very small group of persons
Determining the defamatory nature of a statement hinges on whether the writers and publishers of the statement thought the words were defamatory.
In order to win a libel action, a plaintiff must prove that the defamation was of and concerning him or her.
Plaintiffs can be identified by name, by photograph, and by membership in a small group.
Plaintiffs can be defamed by publications about the activities of their family members
In general, each person involved in the publication of defamatory material may be sued.
Accurate reporting and quoting of a defamatory statement that another person has said in a non-privileged context is an effective defense in libel law.
There is no statute b. of limitations in libel law.
The fault requirement that public officials and public figures are required to prove is negligence
The actual malice rule originated in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964).
Debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide open.
Vehement, caustic, and sharp attacks, even on government and public officials, should not be part of public discourse.
There is no chilling effect on speech caused by penalizing honest mistakes.
Public officials, in deference to their position and to public trust, should be able to expect the press to treat them with heightened respect and with extra caution in their coverage of public issues
The determination of knowledge of falsity rests on what the libel defendant knew at the time of publication
Misquotation of a public figure cannot be libelous unless the wording materially changes the meaning of what was really said.
Knowledge of falsity focuses on what the publisher should have known; reckless disregard focuses on what the publisher knew
A publisher must be able to demonstrate reasonable belief in the published material.
The jury determines whether a plaintiff is a public official
Unless private person libel plaintiffs are seeking presumed or punitive damages, states can determine the fault standard for private persons
Most states have established negligence as the private-person fault standard.
Libel actions are usually adjudicated in the place with the most significant relationship to the case
Actual malice must be shown with convincing clarity.
Actual malice is the standard of fault for public figures
A public official must establish that a defamatory statement was directed at the official's government unit, not at the official personally
To be designated a public figure, a person must have widespread fame or notoriety, or must have voluntarily thrust himself or herself into a matter of public controversy for the purpose of influencing the outcome of that controversy
Being in the public eye and being a public figure are the same.
Private figures can be made public figures by bootstrapping
The proper question in establishing a person's private figure status is not whether the plaintiff volunteered for the publicity, but whether the plaintiff volunteered for an activity from which publicity would foreseeably arise.
Being voluntarily part of a public sphere or profession does not satisfy a court's public figure requirements.
The inquiry must analyze the common usage or meaning of the words.
Is the statement verifiable? (Can it be proven either true or false?)
What is the meaning of the statement when taken out of context? (Journalistic context doesn't matter in distinguishing fact from opinion. Only the actual words of the statement, standing alone, can be considered.)
What is the broader social context into which the statement fits?
Defendants must demonstrate that a defamatory statement is completely true in order to maintain the truth defense.
Substantial truth, as opposed to complete truth, is sufficient to maintain the truth defense
A broadcaster's skeptical tone of voice is sufficient to defeat the truth defense.
Truth is not a complete defense in cases with media defendants.
Absolute privilege is the privilege of the reporter
Qualified privilege is the privilege of the speaker
The fair report privilege protects media reports of official government actions, regardless of possible defamatory elements in those reports.
The fair report privilege covers officials and proceedings in the executive and judicial branches of state and federal governments, but not in legislative branches.
Letters to the editor usually are considered to be statements of fact.
The wire service defense holds that the accurate republication of a story provided by a reputable news agency does not constitute fault as a matter of law
According to the CDA, providers of interactive computer services (such as AOL) can be treated as publishers of defamatory information provided by entities other than the provider (so thus are liable for the libels published by those entities).
Judges sometimes grant summary judgments to plaintiffs if they can't prove actual malice.