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Libel…and how to avoid        it          Journalism 1 + 2  Mercer County Community College       Prof. Holly K. Johnson  ...
Slander and libel have a lot in common,they both have to do with lies that hurtpeople’s careers or reputations.Slander and...
Slander = The crime of making false spoken statements thatare damaging to a person’s reputation. Professor Pete Jones slep...
Libel = The crime of writing and printing false spokenstatements that are damaging to a person’s reputation.              ...
Although it seems obvious that you can’t lie about people andwreck their reputation by telling others these lies, there ar...
What if the person you are defaming is dead?                                    If there’s no one to                      ...
What if you say something about an institution rather than a specific person?Libeling an institution is just asillegal as ...
What if you print a cartoon or image that defames the person?A printed image (even on theweb) that clearly suggestssomethi...
What if you’re just kidding?If it’s ABSOLUTELY clear thatthe accusation is a JOKE andno reasonable person couldmistake it ...
What if you just HINT rather than saying something directly?                      Well, I’m not saying she was a call girl...
What if you’re being sarcastic?     What if you’re giving a general opinion?Sarcasm carries the same risk for libel as any...
Reviews of art, movies, books, entertainment,restaurants etc. EVEN WHEN THEY ARE VERYNEGATIVE are NOT considered libelous ...
What if you just say someone’s a “poopy head” but aren’t more specific?                                George Bush is a to...
How come “tabloid” newspaperscan get away with printingthings that are totally bogus??!
ALIENS SPOTTED IN NJ!SATAN CAPTURED ALIVE!First, bear in mind that there ismore than one kind of tabloidnewspaper. The tru...
But then there are the ones that accusecelebrities and famous people of all kindsof crazy things, how on earth do theyavoi...
What if you have proof that what you say is true?                      The governor of NY slept with and paid             ...
How can reporters protect themselves from getting sued?The best thing you can do is to understand libel and toconsult a li...
For an interactive libel checklist visit:http://www.utsystem.edu/ogc/intellectualproperty/libelfrm.htm
END
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Libel - What is it and how to avoid it.

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Intended for new media and journalism students at Mercer County Community College in Prof. Holly Johnson's classes. This presentation is intended to explain basic information about libel and how to avoid it.

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  • Ignorance of the law doesn ’t protect you if you actually commit slander or libel.
  • SNL sketches are another example.
  • SNL sketches are another example.
  • SNL sketches are another example.
  • Transcript of "Libel - What is it and how to avoid it."

    1. 1. Libel…and how to avoid it Journalism 1 + 2 Mercer County Community College Prof. Holly K. Johnson ©2012
    2. 2. Slander and libel have a lot in common,they both have to do with lies that hurtpeople’s careers or reputations.Slander and libel are both against the law.
    3. 3. Slander = The crime of making false spoken statements thatare damaging to a person’s reputation. Professor Pete Jones slept with a big donkey in the testing center on the MCCC West Windsor campus. ILLEGAL Speaker has no proof and says it out loud so many can hear.
    4. 4. Libel = The crime of writing and printing false spokenstatements that are damaging to a person’s reputation. Jones beds donkey! Professor Pete Jones slept with a large, hairy donkey in the testing center on the MCCC West Windsor campus. ILLEGAL Speaker has no proof and writes it so many can read.
    5. 5. Although it seems obvious that you can’t lie about people andwreck their reputation by telling others these lies, there aredetails to consider:• What if the person is dead?• What if you say something about an institution rather than a specific person?• What if you print a cartoon or image that defames the person?• What if you’re just kidding?• What if you just HINT rather than saying something directly?• What if you’re being sarcastic?• What if you’re just giving a general opinion?• What if you just say someone’s a “poopy head” but aren’t more specific?• How come tabloid newspapers can get away with it?• What if you have proof that what you say is true?• How can reporters protect themselves from getting sued?
    6. 6. What if the person you are defaming is dead? If there’s no one to complain about your libelous words, you’re usually off the hook, but sometimes their relatives might sue you on their behalf and say you’re making the whole family look bad. So death doesn’t make libel okay. Elvis slept with donkeys at Graceland. BAD IDEA
    7. 7. What if you say something about an institution rather than a specific person?Libeling an institution is just asillegal as libeling a person.You can’t say IBM computerscause brain damage inchildren without proof.You can, however, speakgenerally about how PC’s arenot as good as Macs becauseyou’re not defaming a specificindividual or institution ororganization. IBM computers cause brain damage in ILLEGAL! children.
    8. 8. What if you print a cartoon or image that defames the person?A printed image (even on theweb) that clearly suggestssomething about someone (orsome institution) that defames itand could ruin its reputation isjust as libelous as writtenwords.But this gets tricky as with theimage to the right. Is the picturereally suggesting that PresidentBush is a Nazi or is it simplystating an opinion that he’s likeHitler? If it’s pure opinion, it isnot libel. If, however, areasonable reader/viewer wouldlook at this and believe it meanthe was truly allied with theWhite Supremacist movement,then it’s libelous. What do you think? Is this libelous?
    9. 9. What if you’re just kidding?If it’s ABSOLUTELY clear thatthe accusation is a JOKE andno reasonable person couldmistake it for being true, then itis NOT considered libelous.For example, The Onion is aparody newspaper that runsjoke headlines and articles likethe one to the right that says“Wii video games blamed forrise in effeminate violence.”This is not considered libel.If, however, it is not 100% clearthat it’s a joke, a paper may beaccused of libel. NOT LIBELOUS
    10. 10. What if you just HINT rather than saying something directly? Well, I’m not saying she was a call girl before she met the president. Still of course, when you hear one thing obviously you ignore it, but when severalWhat do you think prominent democrats say the same thing it’s hard not to wonder of about the possibility. first ladyMichelle Obama? Hinting at something in such a way that it’s clear what you’re getting at is still libelous. Consider the situation at left. The pundit is suggesting that Michelle Obama was a call girl without saying it directly. It’s still libelous. ILLEGAL
    11. 11. What if you’re being sarcastic? What if you’re giving a general opinion?Sarcasm carries the same risk for libel as any other writtenspeech. But a personal opinion is NOT considered libelous. Op/Ed Section Security guards at Donald Trump may LAX airport are really own half the planet but slowing terrorism. I think he’s a jackass. They’ve confiscated His hair looks like a over three billion pairs mouse and he treats of toenail clippers and people like dirt. I met 600 gallons of him once and he didn’t shampoo, and they’re even shake my hand! not done yet! ILLEGAL LEGAL
    12. 12. Reviews of art, movies, books, entertainment,restaurants etc. EVEN WHEN THEY ARE VERYNEGATIVE are NOT considered libelous becausethey constitute personal opinions. LEGAL The food at the Applebees on Rt. 1 in Trenton was inedible the waitresses were slow and the atmosphere was completely awful.
    13. 13. What if you just say someone’s a “poopy head” but aren’t more specific? George Bush is a total f@!$*ing moron. LEGAL Written or spoken insults that contain no specific false allegations are NOT libelous.
    14. 14. How come “tabloid” newspaperscan get away with printingthings that are totally bogus??!
    15. 15. ALIENS SPOTTED IN NJ!SATAN CAPTURED ALIVE!First, bear in mind that there ismore than one kind of tabloidnewspaper. The truly crazy (andfunny) kind are the ones that makeoutrageous claims like the onesabove, claims that cannot beverified one way or another. In thisway they avoid libel by not actuallydefaming anyone in particular.
    16. 16. But then there are the ones that accusecelebrities and famous people of all kindsof crazy things, how on earth do theyavoid lawsuits?Answer 1 - They don’t. They keep lawyers onretainer because they get sued frequently. ArethaFranklin, Carol Burnett, Arnold Schwarzenegger,Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman have all successfullysued tabloid newspapers.Answer 2 - They stretch the truth, so “Trump’s new $$$ war with ex-wife” is probably based on somecourt document filed between the Donald and his exand they are just making it sound bigger than it is,but it’s not entirely untrue and they know just how farto take it before it crosses over into true libel.Answer 3 - Famous people often don’t bother suingeven over lies because the publicity surrounding thistype of suit could prove a thousand times moredamaging than the original fabrication.Answer 4 - Once upon a time they had so littlemoney there was no point in suing, but that’s not trueanymore. They make millions each year.
    17. 17. What if you have proof that what you say is true? The governor of NY slept with and paid for a call girl. If a newspaper printed that story without evidence it would be libelous. The evidence, however, was in court records showing that he was being investigated for financial abuses. They had documents showing he’d paid for services from Emperor’s Club VIP, a known prostitution ring. If you have proof, it’s not libel, it’s NEWS!
    18. 18. How can reporters protect themselves from getting sued?The best thing you can do is to understand libel and toconsult a libel checklist in situations of doubt.
    19. 19. For an interactive libel checklist visit:http://www.utsystem.edu/ogc/intellectualproperty/libelfrm.htm
    20. 20. END
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