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Libel, Big Pockets and Blogs

A fascinating discussion by Dana Hull of newspapers and blogging. Here are the potential libel issues:

One of the biggest questions facing newsrooms is how libel law applies to blogs. Libel suits are relatively rare — and blogging is so new that little case law exists. Still, many media attorneys stress that if a blog is written by a newspaper staff writer, it is likely to be held to the same standard of liability or malice as if it appeared in newsprint.

“It’s a developing landscape,” says Leatherbury, a partner in the Dallas office of Vinson & Elkins who has practiced media law for 25 years. “In dealing with mainstream publications that launch blogs, my assumption is that they’ll be treated more like mainstream media for good and for bad if a legal issue arises about a blog posting.”

Leatherbury also warns that mainstream media blogs are likely to be more visible targets of libel lawsuits. While an independent blogger may exert just as much influence, a newspaper blogger has the potential to reach a wide audience — and works for a large media company that clearly has assets.

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