eBook Ch. 6, Pt. 1
What Defamation Is
(And Why It Matters for Media Businesses)

Ch. 6: Defamation and Media Liability: Why Media Firms Need to Worry about Reputational Lawsuits
Pt. 1: What Defamation Is (And Why It Matters for Media Businesses)

Defamation occurs when one party claims that another party has injured its reputation or injured its ability to earn a livelihood. And that injury has serious effects.

There are two main kinds of defamation:

  • Libel: defamation that occurs in written forms, e.g., an article or print advertisement.
  • Slander: defamation that is spoken.

Of course, it's not just that you hurt someone's feelings. The law is a little more complicated than that. For a statement to be defamatory, it has to be…

Published.
"Published" doesn't have to mean printed. It just means that someone else heard or read your statement.

False.
Lawyers have to prove that your statement was inaccurate. For this reason, it's key to fact check everything your client suggests you include in your work.

Injurious.
The statement has to cause harm to another party.

Unprivileged.
Your statement can't be protected or "privileged" by law. For instance, attorney-client and doctor-patient communications are all privileged by law.

So that's some good news, right? Someone can't sue you as long as everything you include in your media is true and accurate, right? Well, no. People can still sue you, but they might not win in court. A jury will have to decide whether the statements your firm made were false.

Next: Pt. 2: Case Study: A PR Firm Learns How Damaging Defamation Can Be

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