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340 media law exam #2
Undergraduate 1

Additional Journalism Flashcards




Burnett v. National Enquirer

Went to California Court of Appeals

-well know TV entertainment and personality

published brief blurb in a gossip column said she was in a restuarant account was her walking around restauranet dumping winte on her and someone dumping water on her

implication:that shie is drunk allegation of defamatory implication

-she claimed falsehood, not drunk

How was info obtained?  What did the publicatoin know at the time they published it?

the reporter who originally prepared ocntent got from a tipster, someone paid

-the writer told the editor that he had suspicions about the tipster and had been unreliable in the past

-the tipster told the writer he heard this from someone else he wasn't there either

-heard from  a 3rd party, double hearsay

tipster never said she was drunk

-editor sent another reporter to investigate could onle confirm her and the other person were there had a convo- not an exciting story

this report was substantially false

-knew publishing false material and did anyways

Harte-Hanks Communications v. Connaughton

local newspaper published story abotu him setting up a blackmail scheme, directed at the judge

-defamatory and if false highly problematic and damaging to a political campaign

where did the story come from? based on one source Alice Thompson

-Connaughton promised her and her sister jobs and dinners and trips if they helped him with his blackmail scheme

-said there was a tape

-said she was not a supporter of connaughton

-they didn't listen to tape before published

-not listening to big evidence=problem

put something like that aside is a problem

-Conn: won at trial said newspaper published with actual malice (reckless disregard)

-appealed to Supreme Court of US

-jury determined there was actual malice

-should have talked to witnesses

background check on alice thompson

Curtis Publishing v. Butts

Accused Butt (UGA coach) of fixing a game with Alabama

-called up Bryant (Alabama) and gave him plays do they could beat UGA

Do they correlate?

What might you do? Hire a football expert

Would you refer the tape of the games with these notes, and see if they tape reflects Alabama having an unfair advantage

Whether Alabama knew the plays they were going to run

Magazine should have done that before they published, then it is too late

Jury verdict: coach considering public figure had to prove actual malice

-the jury sufficient reckless regard

Constitutionally: the plaintiff has to prove actual malice

Constitutional requirement

Found: this is actual malice, sufficient evidence

AP v. Walker

Walker instigating violence – said it was false and defamatory

-on going breaking news event

-provided content to the AP

Trial court ruled it out and said it was insufficient evidence of actual malice


Associated press was dealing with known reliable freelancer (not unreliable source)

-got content from him before that had been accurate

-no reason to expect falsity


Walker vs Curtis: Walker was covering breaking news event reported as HOT News, happening now

Curtis- not breaking news, had plenty of time to check, ongoing news story

Mason v. New York Magazine

describe himself as “intellectual jigalo”

-he never said that, the critical question was whether or not his original boastful statement about his own credentials was the same as the altered quote

Magazine changed it, but that is basically what you were saying in the interview

-not changing the meaning

-JURY in favor of NEW YORKER

-insufficient evidence of actual malice

Supreme Court: constitutional standard, altered quote could be actual malice if it changes meaning

Back to trial: ultimately favor of the Magazine

Hugger v. Rutherford Insitute


6th grader went home and told her mom- remove words what would jesus do from her presentation and read a passage from a book that had the word “ damn” in it

-violated of her 1st amendment speech rights

Principle and teacher had to prove actual malice

Was this sufficient evidence of actual malice?

Matter of law: not enough evidence

Appeals court said Rutherford could have waiting to contact other members from the class but had no reason not to believe the little girl

-she was not known to lie

-they confirmed the passage

-trying to investigate further, were probably sloppy and negligent

Only seeking certain type of damages: had to prove actual malice whether public or private

Gertz v. Welch

lawyer well known in his circle

-in big cities lawyers all know each other in the legal community

-high profile lawsuit filed against a police officer

-police officer had used force on a boy and had killed the boy and there were questions about whether the force was necessary and racial issues

The family of the boy hired Gertz to sue the police office for wrongful death

Conservation publication published the story about the case and about Mr. Gertz

-claimed he was a communist and trying to frame the police officer

-made some allegations about Gertz

-said radical lawyer trying to frame him

Public figure prove actual malice

-going to make it hard for public figures to recover in libel suits, think a 1st amendment requirement

-how to determine if a public figure and what type (2)

Whether or not at publication Mr. Gertz was an all-purpose public figure

Criteria: all purpose figure fame and achieved prominence in society and is influencial=NO

He is a lawyer known in his circle of lawyers

-not an all-purpose public figure, just known in professionalism

Is he a public official? NO

1st issue is he a public official? Appointed to government service NO

All purpose? NO

-he is not a household name

Magazine article about controversial police shooting, excessive police force against a boy. Allegations of racial issues in that shooting. Is that a public controversy?
Real dispute? Yes it is a public controversy

-it is about the police and how they do their job and that impacts everyone (force and racial)

-First Element Fits I she a limited public figure?

Second: voluntarily inject himself into the public controversy

-book said he was just doing his job as a lawyer he did not inject himself

He was going his job took on a case he did nothing to step into the public debate or discussion

-he didn’t give press conferences or appear on the media

-he shunned the media, he said “ no comment”

-not trying to sway public opinion, don’t need to go to 3rd point because didn’t meet 2cnd point

-he was only required to prove negligence (private figure)

Atlanta Journal Institute v. Jewell

Atlanta Journal appealed

Critical issue: whether or not Jewell in lawsuit would be characterized as public or private figure

Jewell- private security guard for Atlanta Olympics, not a public official

On a scene when a bomb in a bookbag exploded

-before it exploded Mr. Jewell cleared people away because it looked suspicious

Originally looked like he was hero- spotted suspicious bookbag

-he became the subject of media attention, went on many cable news shows

-publicity: went on any talk show: non-stop for about 2 days

-he was happy to do it, he was a hero

The coverage turned: all of a sudden went from hero to “suspect”

-then he stopped doing media shows (he went into hiding)

-not hounding him as a suspect

Safety and Security of the Olympics

Olympics are safe

-most media outlets he sued settled

Atlanta Journal

 Preceded  with the lawsuit

Public Or private figure for judge to apply?

Step by Step analysis

Public Official? NO, rule out quick

All purpose public figure? NO did gain fame after bombing but not enough, Jewell didn’t achieve specific place in society or fame. Known only in connection with this bomb

Limited purpose public figure? Did the content concern a public controversy? YES because it was affected public safety and impacts the population

Issue of who was responsible for bomb and was security safe

Just doing his job how is it different from Gertz? Gertz didn’t seek out media attention

-he voluntarily injected himself into media attention (talk shows, interviews, etc)

What did he talk about? Safety of the Olympics, he tried to influence public opinion about the safety of the Olympics  TRIED TO INFLUENCE OUTCOME

-entered this before allegedly defamatory publication** concerned before, not after

-he was a limited purpose public official and had to prove actual malice to recover

-he died and this case is still going on

New York Times v. Sullivan


  • The NYT published an add that claimed the Montgomery schools had done something against black students and interfered with their 1st amendment rights
  • Sullivan, the commissioner of public affairs in Montgomery, sued the newspaper even though he was not directly named
  • He was awarded $500k, and won again on appeal
  • The USSC overturned the ruling and said that public officials had to prove actual malice in order to win a libel case
  • This was put in an effort to protect free speech against the government
Time, Inc v. Firestone


  • This case involved the divorce of prominent figures (the Firestone heirs)
  • Times ran an article discussing affairs and other adultery that had no evidence or support
  • Times argued that she was a public figure and could not sue or would have to prove actual malice
  • The USSC said that she had not injected herself into the mix and was in fact not a public figure
Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co.


  • There had been a brawl during a high school wrestling match and the coach was accused of not stopping the fight
  • The coach was let off after an investigation
  • A newspaper ran an article about how he had lied and gotten away with it
  • The USSC said that an assertion of fact in an opinion column is not always an opinion
  • Coach was awarded $100k
Bryson v. News America Publications


  • This is the case where a girl submitted a first-person story about a girl names Bryson who she called a slut
  • Seventeen published the story, Bryson came forward and said she could be identified in the story
  • Was originally thrown out, but the USSC said that there was an error of law and that it should be tried
  • This case weakened the distinction between libel per se and libel per quod
Straightwell v. National Steel Corp


  • Fired a person who was accused of taking kickbacks
  • Sent out a press release that discussed the issue but did not name him directly
  • At first the jury awarded him damages, but on appeal it was said to be privileged info that falls under the publisher's qualified privilege of statements of mutual interest
  • He did not get any money, but actual malice or common law malice can beat this
Time Inc. v Hill


  • The Hill family was taken hostage in their home but was later released
  • Family moved from that town in order to escape from the whole ordeal
  • Without their permission, a book was written and later a play was developed too
  • Time wrote an article that connected the Hill family to the book and play
  • The Hill family sued and at first won their case
  • On appeal, the USSC overturned the verdict and said that is was a matter of public concern, the plaintiff must prove the idea of actual malice
    • This is still good law today
Solano v. Playgirl


  • This is the case where there was a picture of a man on the cover and the way the cover was designed alluded to the fact that he was naked on the inside
  • He was in fact in the magazine but he was not naked
  • The trial court at first threw the case out, but on appeal the 9th circuit said that actual malice did apply
  • Evidence was found on the deposition transcripts where the creative staff testified that their editor wanted the cover to be that way
  • Judge said that was enough evidence and it was later settled out of court
Florida Star v. BJF


  • A rape case was recorded by an intern at the Sheriff's department
    • By law the police should have removed the victim's name
    • Editor did not catch that the name was included and her name was published in the paper
  • At first the lady was awarded 100k in damages
  • But the USSC overturned the verdict saying that the Constitution prevents states from punishing the news media - even by allowing civil damages - for publishing truthful, lawfully obtained information.
  • In this case, though the mistake was made by the police, the paper lawfully got the name of the victim
Midler v. Ford Motor Co


  • Ford wanted to buy the copyrights to Midler's song, but she refused
  • Ford hired a singer that sounded identical to Midler and told her to try and mimic her sound
  • The 9th Cir. Said that she could sue under common law but not statute.
  • In Midler II the verdict awarded her $400,000 which was held up on appeal
White v. Samsung


  • An ad was created for a samsung VCR in which a robot was portrayed like White
  • Was nicknamed in the company the "Vanna White spot"
  • 9th Cir. Said that she could recover under common law
  • Was awarded $400,000
Cher v. Forum Internaional


  • Cher gave an interview to a freelancer for publication in US
  • US did not run the article and the freelancer gave it to Star and Forum
  • Star ran the interview as "Exclusive series - Cher: My life, my husbands, and my many, many men" on the cover
  • Forum on the other hand ran part of the interview and also promoted it on subscription cards
    • They used her name as a form of advertising
  • She sued for misappropriation and won in court
Hoffman v. LA magazine


  • Magazine ran a remake of a popular movie using Hoffman's head on a dress
  • The caption below specifically mentioned Hoffman by name
  • Had a listed section of the dress and things that he was wearing
  • In federal court he won $3 million, but it was overturned because it was in fact not a paid advertisement
  • Hoffman had to prove actual malice, which he was unable to do so the verdict was overturned
Bartnicki v. Vopper


  • An illegally recorded phone conversation between two high level teacher union officials was sent to a local radio station where it was played on the air
  • Bartnicki sued the radio station, but the USSC said that the station was not in violation because they had no hand in the illegal recording, they obtained it lawfully, and it involved a matter of public concern
Shulman v. Group W. Production Inc


  • An accident victim was recorded during a helicopter flight to the hospital
  • She sued and on appeal the court said that she in fact had a reasonable right to privacy
Sanders v Am Broad Cast


  • Employees of "psychic" hotline secretly recorded by fellow "employee" who was actually an undercover ABC reporter
  • The company sued ABC under the Cali. Statute to reasonable right to privacy
  • Trial court awarded them $1.2 mil, appeals court overturned the award however
  • Finally the Cali. SC said the original verdict was fine, and reinstated a $900,000 award
Food Lion v. Cap'l Cities ABC


  • ABC reporters got jobs at Food Lion to investigate repackaging of foods
  • They tried to set up situations and used hidden cameras to document
  • The only issue was how the reporters got their footage
  • Food Lion sued for fraud and trespassing
  • First verdict was worth over $5.5 million, appeals reversed the fraud and upheld the trespass
  • In the end Food Lion was awarded $2
Desnick v. ABC


  • Reporters with hidden cameras went to a doctor to see if he was recommending unnecessary surgery
  • The court said that there was not a trespassing claim because it was much like a food critic going into a restaurant unannounced
  • Appeals court agreed with the verdict
Med Lab Management v. ABC


  • ABC went undercover to a medical lab that was accused of cutting corners and giving women false test results
  • Using hidden cameras they were given a tour of the lab
  • They were sued for trespassing, but the court ruled they did not go beyond the reasonably expected seclusion of the lab's offices or that of the owner
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