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Contents

Republication and News Reporting 

Chapter:
Ethical and Legal Considerations
Author(s):

Annette Flanagin

Republication and News Reporting

A publisher can be held liable for republishing a defamatory statement. For example, if a publisher reprinted a defamatory statement about a public figure knowing that the statement was false, the publisher could be held liable. Similarly, if the republished false statement was about a private figure, the publisher could be held liable for defamation even if the statement was published without knowledge of its falsity (ie, through negligence). Under the privilege of “fair reporting,” an author can repeat a previously published defamatory statement if it is part of official proceedings (eg, a congressional debate or press conference) as long as the account is fair and accurate.4,7 Under the privilege of “neutral reporting,” an author may repeat a previously published defamatory statement as long as the second account is a neutral or balanced report of a public controversy or matter of legitimate public concern (see also 5.9.4, Statements of Opinion). Publishers, editors, and writers who rely on confidential sources for potentially defamatory statements are at increasing risk for libel action. For example, in the United States, shield laws, intended to protect news reporters from being legally forced to reveal identities of sources, vary by state, and their application has been challenged in a number of recent cases.3(§5.09)

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