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Mass Media Law

The Printing Press to the Internet

Arthur S. Hayes

Digital media law is now the dynamic legal territory. Mass Media Law: The Printing Press to the Internet is a textbook designed to introduce students to the panoply of legal theories raised by the Internet revolution as well as those supporting traditional media. The book takes a historical approach beginning with the printing press and the telegraph and proceeding to the digital technologies of today, such as social media and search engines. Concepts such as defamation, broadcast regulation, privacy, and free expression are covered along with new media legal theories including Internet exceptionalism, cyber libertarianism, and digital speech and democratic culture. These are introduced to explain why traditional theories such as First Amendment medium-specific analysis, common carriage, and network neutrality are just as relevant today as they were in the early twentieth century. In order to help readers develop critical reasoning skills, each chapter opens with a highly readable realworld vignette and goes on to identify and explain legal doctrines and tests. Key passages from court opinions are highlighted, and each chapter closes with a list of online media law resources and thought-provoking questions, including legal hypotheticals, to give readers a solid understanding of the area in question. Mass Media Law is designed to be the main text and a valuable resource for undergraduate and graduate courses covering media, mass communication, free expression, and journalism law.


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4. Defamation: Common Law Elements


C H A P T E R F O U R Defamation Common Law Elements CONTROVERSY: Most likely, the name Richard Jewell means nothing to those under 25, and little to those who are older. In July 1996, however, Jewell became internation- ally famous overnight. And just as quickly, it seems, internationally infamous. That summer, Jewell, while working as a security guard at Centennial Olympic Park, the site for the 1996 Summer Olympics, found a pipe bomb. He alerted the police, the site was evacuated, and hundreds of lives were saved, though two died in the explosion. He was hailed as a hero. That changed three days later when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the FBI was investigating Jewell as the lead suspect in the bombing. Then, about three months later, authorities cleared Jewell as a suspect. In 2005, Eric Robert Rudolph confessed to the bombing. In January 1997, Jewell sued the newspa- per and other news outlets for libel. He won out-of-court settlements from a number of outlets that reported the same accusations originally reported by the Atlanta Journal. But the newspaper refused to settle. In January 2012, the Georgia Supreme Court appears to have put an end to Jewell’s lawsuit when it upheld a lower court ruling absolving the newspaper of culpability. The Atlanta Journal persuaded the Georgia courts that its reporting was substantially true because it relied on a credible source and included in the same story comments from sources who dismissed or cast doubts about the...

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