Avoiding libel is essential. Libel can be described as a published or broadcast false and defamatory statement that damages an individuals reputation –It must be published where someone other than the person who is claiming defamation reads it –It must defame the person through monetary loss or loss of respect o Libel per se o Libel per quod
Avoiding libel is essential. –Libelous content must identify the person or group –Publication of the information is negligent o Lack of effort to find the truth o Discarding notes o Intentional malice –Public person vs. private person In its simplest form, for libel to exist, there must have been publication, defamation, identification and malice, but there could also be negligence or reckless disregard
Defense for libel. Truth The information is privileged Fair comment and criticism Actual malice
No funny business. One of the best ways for yearbook staffs to avoid libel or issues with administration or community is to take their job seriously Humor can often backfire Gag captions can often be the worst culprits What one person thinks is funny another can see as hurtful
Student Activity Read the following and determine if it is libelous: –Situation: The school board, at an open meeting, fires a teacher for excessive absences and for providing false affidavits for absences. A group of English II students found themselves trying to learn on their own or with the help of a substitute teacher for the first semester as Mrs. Greta Gleason called in sick for more days than she actually taught. I was glad when the school board fired her, said sophomore Brandy Wright. We werent learning anything.
Student Activity Read the following and determine if it is libelous: –Situation: After the first grading period, 12 of 24 starters for the football team were removed from active status after failing one or more classes. 1.The varsity football team was decimated before the season was well underway when half of the team was sidelined because the players had failing grades. Im embarrassed by the lack of scholarship some of the boys demonstrated, head coach Abram Tittle said. They are not dumb. They just didnt try. 2.Dumb jocks. Thats what the football team turned out to be. Half of the team was sidelined because they were not smart enough to pass homemaking.
Student Activity Read the following and determine if it is libelous: –Situation: Three varsity cheerleaders broke the city curfew of 11 p.m. on a weeknight and were escorted home by city police. No charges were filed. Just what were Vicki Smith, Alice Cruthers and Martha Jones doing in Cutter Park Nov. 12 when they were picked up by the police?
Student Activity Read the following and determine if it is libelous: –Situation: A photograph shows a female student with ice cream on her face after an ice-cream eating contest at a pep rally. 1.WHAT A MESS. Sophomore Jenny Jones laughs as ice cream dribbles down her chin and onto her much-needed bib. Jones finished third behind junior Amanda Curry and senior Candy Stubbs. 2.FAT CHANCE. Sophomore Jenny Jones ate a lot more than she left on her face. Everyone was surprised when Jones didnt win the contest.
Student Activity Assign teams of editors to write appealing and creative captions for photographs the staff has taken for this years yearbook. Have groups of reporters and photographers review the captions and test their understanding of libel laws.