Press: Challenge to Hard Reporting

An appeals court ruling creates Malice in Wonderland

By now, even casual trial followers are aware that a public figure who sues a newspaper or magazine for libel must prove not only that the story is false but that it was published with reckless disregard for the truth. This test of "actual malice" was meant to safeguard the press, but in practice it has proved a complex standard that is open to wide interpretation by juries. In recent years, seven out of every ten libel cases lost by the media have been overturned on appeal. However, in an unexpected reversal last week, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.,...

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