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Comm 3310

by: Ashley

Comm 3310 COMM 3310 - 001

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About this Document

Notes covering over Libel.
Andrew M Clark
Class Notes





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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Ashley on Friday September 30, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to COMM 3310 - 001 at University of Texas at Arlington taught by Andrew M Clark in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 12 views. For similar materials see COMMUNICATION LAW & ETHICS in Communication at University of Texas at Arlington.


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Date Created: 09/30/16
Chapter 5­ Libel (importance of a good reputation)  Defamation has traditionally been the domain of individuals states not the federal government.  Rule of law followed English common law  Libel (defamation)  1. Written defamation  2. Long lasting and broad 3. Premeditated  Libel per quod­ Libel by means of circumstance Libel per se­ don’t need additional. Its obvious state.  Slander  1. Spoken defamation  2. Words are feeling 3. Rules are strict  Libel v. Slander  Mass media  Characteristics of both libel and slander  Libel was criminal law, but now is mostly civil  Monetary damage awarded as compensation The publication or broadcast of any statement that: Injures someone’s reputation, or  Lowers that person’s esteem in the community  Media faces a tough time in a libel chase because: 1. Libel law is extremely complex  2. Tangible damage v. abstract principles  3. Many hold media in low regard a. Ex: Hulk Holgan Case  SLAPP  Some plaintiffs file libel suits to silence critics  These are referred as slapp suit  Libel proof are in some courts that can’t sue for libel because they’re reputation is already  damaged.  Ingredients for law suit  1. Defamatory language  2. Falsity  3. Publication  4. Identification  5. Fault  6. Damages (harm) Publication When one person, in addition to the written and the person defamed, sees or hears that material  Presumed publication  Statute of limitation is usually 1­2 years  Attributing libel to a third party is not a defense  Identification  The defamation statement is “of or concerning him/her”  1. Name  2. Nickname  3. Photograph  4. References that would identify only one person  Group identification  Large group v. small group  References to groups are gross  Generalizations and not to be taken literally  Defamatory language  Words in light of their ordinary meaning/ innuendo  Words in context of entire piece  Pure opinion is not defamatory (can’t be proven true or false)  Must injure reputation Harms the reputation of another as to lower him in the estimation of the community  Deters third persons from associating or dealing with him Doesn’t have to be written, can be photo  Headlines (ex: OJ Simpson case  NY times v. Sullivan (1960) Person who has to prove Plaintiff has to show actual malice  Fault  Jury consideration  1. Limited time to investigation  2. Is the source reliable and trustworthy  3. Did the story sound improbable or farfetched Public figures Public officials   All­purpose public figure  Limited purpose public figures  Public Officials  1. Courts will consider the kind of government job the person held  a. Anyone who is elected to a government position is a public officials 2. Limited purpose public figure  a. Those “who have trust themselves to the forefront of particular  b. Public controversies in order to influence the resolution of the issue involved  3. Private Person  a. If plaintiff does not meet the definition of public official all purpose public figure  or limited­purpose public figure, the court regards them as a private person  b. Usually private persons must only prove negligence, a “failure to exercise  reasonable care.” 4. Negligence  a. Reliance on an untrusty source  b. Not reading or misreading pertinent doc.  c. Failure to check with an obvious source  d. Carelessness in editing and news handling  Statue of Limitations In a libel action, a statuete of limitations begins when: 1. The material is published or broadcast for the first time or distributed to a large portion of the audience.  A libel suit can be brought in any state in which the libel has been circulated regularly  Venue shopping­ choosing a state that has laws favorable to your legal action.  Keeton v. Hustler (1984) Absolute privilege  Immunity from libel suits granted to government officials and others based on remarks written as part of their official’s duties.   Neutral hyperbole  Language so expansive that the reader of listener knows it is only an opinion, and that it is not an assertion of fact.  Supreme Court in Milkovich v. Lorain journal Co. (1990) ruled that pure opinion is a statement  incapable of being proven true or false  Rhetorical Hyperbole  Language that cannot be taken seriously Fair comment  Protects Media critics, Food critics etc.  Protects opinion and not a false statement of fact Actual damages are damages for actual injury  1. To reputation 2. Standing in community  3. Monetary loss  4. Personal humiliation  5. Mental suffering and anguish  Punitive Damages punish the defendant for misconduct and warn others not to act in a similar  manners  The damage awards are usually very large  Presumed damages are damages that a plaintiff can receive without proof of injury or harm  Invasion of Privacy Right to privacy in the U.S. has been diminishing for the past 100 yrs. due to: 1. The growth of the government  2. The growth of the mass media 3. Technology innovation  Comes through the 4  amendment.  Privacy laws arise at the end of the 19  century because of: 1. Movement from a rural to urban society  2. Yellow journalism  But modern enterprise and invention have, through innovations up privacy: 1. Commercial appropriation of name or likeness  2. Public disclosure of embarrassing private facts  3. Placing an individual in a false  light 4. Intensions upon physical seclusion  Appropriation  It’s illegal to appropriate an individual’s mane or likeness for commercial or trade purposes  without consent 1. Right to privacy  a. Protects from embarresment and humillitation that can occur when a name or  picture is used without consent for advertising purpose b. Personal right  c. Protect individuals from emotional harm. 


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