Musings of a PR Professional

Libel on the Internet

The other week in my intro to journalism class, we were going over all of the legal issues regarding reporting, journalistic writing, etc. Eventually, the class got on the topic of libel. Libel is the publication of afalse statement that deliberately or carelessly damages someone’s reputation (Inside Reporting by Tim Harrower p. 140) and after some discussion we ended up on the topic of libel on the Internet.

Today, it seems that bloggers bash. They have little or no concern with the issues surrounding libel and are often unaware that what they’re saying sometimes can get them tied up in some serious legal knots. However, one saving grace for them is the ignorance of those being bashed. These people don’t understand the ramifications of libel either and don’t know that what these attackers are saying can be considered libel. They think it’s just them expressing their opinions. And while sometimes that is true, other times what’s being said is really seriously damaging stuff.

Hopefully, as the Internet and blogging continues to evolve and gain relevance, bloggers and the people bloggers are talking about will start to wise up. It will only take one well-publicized lawsuit before people start to shape up and be careful about what they’re putting on the Internet. But why wait for that? For those championing blogging, maintaining that it needs to be taken seriously, they need to realize that with more clout comes more responsibility.

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  1. Favorite 355 Blog « Brittany’s Blog! pingbacked on 11 years, 6 months ago


  1. * prprofmv says:

    Good point, Erin, but isn’t “bloggers bash” an over-generalization? Can you provide some examples? I’ve read many critiques on PR blogs and they seem very well argued. There’s a difference between critiquing and bashing, or committing libel.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 6 months ago
  2. * eemarti says:

    You’re definitely right, “bash” is a little of an over-exaggeration, I got a little carried away. I guess I just feel strongly about the issue, there are so many people out there that blog their critiques effectively and I think the best thing to do is only read those well-informed, eloquent blogs to know how/what to write in my own without crossing the line. Learn by example, if you will.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 6 months ago

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