Citizen Journalist, Defamation, and the Need for Judicial Reform
Kho, Nicholas J.
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CitationKho, Nicholas J. 2019. Citizen Journalist, Defamation, and the Need for Judicial Reform. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractThe hypothesis was that current law regarding defamation has not kept pace with the appearance of the citizen journalist. The research question that addressed the hypothesis asked, “Should the current laws on defamation treat the citizen journalist the same as the professional journalist?” The research indicates that the law treats the citizen journalist differently than it treats the professional journalist. For one thing, shield laws do not always protect the citizen journalist. Vanessa Leggett’s situation is an example of this. Leggett is a citizen journalist who spent time in jail for refusing to reveal confidential sources. On the other hand, courts often give the citizen journalist more First Amendment protection than they give the professional journalist. Dorf & Tarrow (2017) make compelling arguments about this. In addition, Ribstein (2006) uses Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc (1974) to illustrate the notion that the courts give citizen journalists a greater level of First Amendment protection than they give the professional journalist. In an examination of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, Ehrlich (2002) argues that, in the age of the Internet, the problem of defamation can only be solved via reducing anonymity for defamatory posts. The research supports the hypothesis and indicates that citizen journalists are not treated the same as professional journalists. The conclusion drawn from this is that the law needs to keep up with current technology; in particular, judicial reform is needed so the law can fully address issues surrounding the citizen journalist. Yes, the law should be changed so the citizen and professional journalist are treated the same.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42004152