Posts in Fair Report Privilege.

Among the cases for which the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari Monday was the case of Salzano v. North Jersey Media Group. The Court's decision not to accept the case for review allows an important fair report decision issued earlier this year by the New Jersey Supreme Court to stand.

As we previously reported, the opinion of New Jersey's highest appellate court overturned a lower court ruling that imposed a troubling limitation on the fair report privilege.  The privilege is a critical component of the battery of defenses reporters and news organizations have to fend off ... Read More 

In late January, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts affirmed that the fair report privilege applied to information attributed to an anonymous source.  The 6-1 decision in Howell v. The Enterprise Publishing Company dismissing the plaintiff's complaint held that so long as the reporter accurately reported what the confidential source reported to him or her, the privilege applied.

As reported by the First Amendment Center, the case involved claims for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy brought by the former superintendent ... Read More 

The Arkansas Supreme Court held last week in a unanimous decision that the fair report privilege protected reporters from The Courier newspaper who had reported allegations about a rape investigation based on the contents of a police report.

The decision arose out of a defamation claim against the paper made by Kevin Whiteside, who was named in the police report of a rape investigation in December 2006.  The report said that a witness at a party hosted by Whiteside saw Whiteside with the alleged rape victim.  In January 2007, The Courier published a story about the allegations based on the ... Read More 

We previously reported a recent intermediate appellate court decision from New Jersey in which the court took a narrow view of the fair report privilege.  That decision gave cause for concern for news organizations in New Jersey because it held that the privilege does not apply to reports on the contents of civil court complaints and filings other than final decisions by the court.

On Tuesday, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a one-paragraph order that temporarily stayed the effect of the lower court decision while the court considers whether to accept the newspaper's ... Read More 

In a prior post, we described the contours of the fair report privilege.  This common-law privilege protects journalists from liability for republishing factual errors that appear in official records -- such as a police report, government press release, or criminal indictment -- or that are made during official proceedings -- such as a city council meeting or criminal trial.  So long as the journalist provides a substantially accurate account of the record or proceeding, she will not face liability if the record or proceeding described contains an error that someone contends is ... Read More 

Although no reporter or news organization wants to find itself defending against a defamation claim, the reality is that plaintiffs have and will continue to file claims alleging injury to their reputations based on media reporting.  Fortunately, media defendants faced with defamation claims enjoy a number of privileges and defenses that protect the “breathing space” the First Amendment requires.  One such protection recognized in a number of jurisdictions is called the “fair report” privilege.

As formulated in the Restatement (Second) of Torts, § 611 (1977),

[t]he ...


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