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Media Chapter 16: Legal Controls and Freedom of Expression

Terms in this set (17)

To win a libel case, public figures have to prove falsehood, damages, negligence, and actual malice. The main defenses that a newspaper can use to thwart a charge of libel is prove the truth of statement, or absolute privilege, qualified privilege, and the rule of opinion and fair comment.

Defenses against libel:

1)best defense is the TRUTH: if libel defendants can demonstrate that they printed or broadcast statements that were essentially true, such evidence usually bars plaintiffs from recovering any damages -- even if their reputations were harmed
2)Prosecutors, who would otherwise be vulnerable to being accused of libel, are granted ABSOLUTE PRIVILEGE in a court of law so that they are not prevented from making accusatory statements toward defendants
3)the reporters who print or broadcast statements made in court are also protected against libel; they are granted conditional or QUALIFIED PRIVILEGE, allowing them to report judicial or legislative proceedings even though the public statements being reported may be libelous
4)OPINION AND FAIR COMMENT: generally libel applies only to intentional misstatements of factual information rather than opinion, and therefore opinions are protected from libel. However, the line between fact and opinion is often hazy. For this reason, lawyers advise journalists first to set forth the facts on which a viewpoint is based and then to state their opinion based on those facts. In other words, journalists should make it clear that a statement is a criticism and not an allegation of fact