Press: Of Reputations and Reporters

A conference considers better protection for journalists

When the New York Times won its landmark 1964 libel defense against a suit brought by Montgomery, Ala., City Commissioner L.B. Sullivan, journalists throughout the U.S. hailed the Supreme Court's ruling as a triumph for freedom of expression. The Justices in effect shifted the burden of proof from publishers to plaintiffs, and required that public officials must prove that the journalists either knew the disputed stories were false or acted in "reckless disregard" of the truth. For several years, it seemed all but impossible for a prominent...

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