Communication Law

Turner v. Barkfelt/Omaha World-Herald

In examining the dispute between the Omaha World-Herald and James Turner there are many precedent cases that have taken place and laws involving similar matter to this case, both will play a big role on both sides when a final decision does come around.
First looking at the side of the Omaha World-Herald and that of writer Lee Barkfelt in which much of the suit is towards.   The stories that Mr. Barkfelt did print are being tried for libel, listed by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as “a written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression.”   The information that Barkfelt has listed has come out to be true at this point, but looking at the case of New York Times v. Sullivan 1963, the Times printed a story involving L.B. Sullivan the City Commissioner of Montgomery, Alabama, and how he had attempted to destroy Martin Luther King’s attempt to integrate public facilities, and get blacks to favor his vote in an upcoming election.   Sullivan was able to win in Alabama court, but the Times appealed and the case went to the Supreme Court in which they overturned the ruling stating that the First Amendment protection is not dependant on the truth.   Since he (Sullivan) was a public figure the court said they would inhibit the decision if he could prove actual malice which much like libel is defined by as “publication of defamatory material (with knowledge that it was false or reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”   Actual malice was established by this case, so now it has to be met before the press reports about public officials or public figures, which brings to the point that James Turner himself wasn’t a “public figure” until the stories about him were released, basically no malice can be proven due to that fact.  
A case that the Herald and Barkfelt do have to be aware of is Curtis Publishing Co v. Butts 1963, in which an article was published about Georgia...