Libel and the First Amendment: Legal History and Practice in Print and Broadcasting

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More About This Textbook


As the recent cases involving William Westmoreland and Ariel Sharon re­veal, libel suits filed against media organizations have become an increas­ingly serious problem in recent years. The potential for inhibiting news coverage or even putting a news organization out of business has never been greater. This book explores historical and contemporary issues relating to libel suits against media organizations, emphasizing the consequences of the development of libel law for the First Amendment. It also considers the spe­cial problems that broadcasters have with libel suits and their potentially in­hibiting effect on television news coverage.

Labunski traces the development of libel law largely from 1964, when the Supreme Court entered the libel arena for the first time and began a twenty-year effort to develop standards that are fair to both sides. He de­scribes the hostile environment which journalists must enter when they de­fend themselves in court. He also demonstrates the complexity and inconsis­tency that have resulted from the state-by-state creation of libel standards.

Labunski offers suggestions, some more easily accomplished than others, that will help us get out of the libel "morass" which twenty years of Su­preme Court activity and lower court litigation have produced. This book will be of particular value to students of the First Amendment, communica­tion scholars, working journalists, and anyone who wants to better under­stand the complex development of libel laws and the effect of libel suits on news coverage.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887387906
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/1987
  • Pages: 327

Meet the Author

Richard Labunski is an assistant professor in the School of Communications at the University of Washington. He was previously an assistant professor of journalism at Penn State University. Among his many publications is The First Amendment Under Siege: The Politics of Broadcast Regulations. Labunski spent ten years in radio and television news. His doctorate is in political sci­ence from the University of California, where he specialized in First Amendment law.

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