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Libel

The Supreme Court recognizes a persons reputation to be an important possession.

Defamation means injury to one's reputation. Written defamation is considered libel. Spoken defamation is labeled slander.

Journalists should be aware that what they write may be construed as libel. You can often avoid a libel suit if you respond quickly and respectfully to complaints.

Usually, publishers can avoid such suits by printing a retraction.

Normally, the burdern of proof in libel cases falls onto the plaintiff. The plaintiff must normally prove the following elements occured:

  • defamation-there was defamatory language
  • identification-the damage was aimed at the plaintiff
  • publication-the dafamation was disseminated
  • fault-publication was negligent or reckless
  • falsity-the defamation was false
  • personal harm-loss of reputation, emotional distress, loss of business revenues

Normally, truth is an adequate defense for the defendant.

LINKS:

Libel Defense Resource Center, Inc.

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