Bloggers need to learn about libel laws

You can file this one under “Leave Journalism to Journalist” and in the subfolder “Libel.”

According to a Yahoo News report, Neely Moldovan tried suing a photography company for not delivering her wedding pictures. In retaliation, Moldovan took to her blog to call the company a scam. The blog went viral, forcing the photographer to close her doors.

So what really happened?

In the contract, Moldovan had to pay a $125 fee for a cover photo, which she never did. Despite their breach of contract, Moldovan insisted that the photographer refused to turn over the pictures that were rightfully hers.

The photographer was about to waive the fee, but it was too late. The blog had gone viral and the damage had been irreversibly done.

After a legal battle, the photographer was recently awarded more than $1 million after a jury found Moldovan liable for defamation disparagement and civil conspiracy. Justice served.

Moral of the story: Bloggers have no f*****g idea what they are doing.

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Any experienced journalist will tell you this is a classic case of libel, which is defined as “a published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation.” You absolutely cannot write whatever you feel and present it as factual information if it is not in fact 100 percent true.

In this case, Moldovan failed to thoroughly read her contract and immediately took to her blog page proclaiming the photographer was a scam artist that was holding her pictures ransom. However, none of that is true and severely hurt the photographer’s reputation.

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Slam dunk libel case.

But bloggers wouldn’t know this because they have no training in journalism. A blog is more than just a place to write your thoughts and opinions. By publishing something on the internet publicly, you are bound to the rules and ethics of real journalists. Why? Because the written word accessible to the public can be damaging. We have rules to protect ourselves from these sorts of attacks.

There is a fine line between opinion and alleged facts. A veteran journalist knows how to skate on this thin ice. You can publicly complain about anything, but you better make sure it is abundantly clear your words are opinion and not fact (unless the facts are actual facts).

Example 1a: “Transformers 3” is a completely unwatchable film that relies solely on CGI and explosions, a Michael Bay trademark.

Example 1b: “Transformers 3” is a completely unwatchable film as it explicitly and undeniably promotes and encourages pedophilia in a scene involving a child and sex.

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Example 1a is fine since it is clearly the opinion of the author. Conversely, Example 1b will land you in court since the mentioned scene doesn’t even exist, making the statement false and damaging to the reputation of the film.

Let’s try another.

Example 2a: Heather is a lying bitch. She tried to blackmail me, but I wouldn’t allow it. Here’s my proof: screenshots of texts and emails of Heather blackmailing author and lying about it on social media.

Example 2b: Heather is a lying whore who will blow any guy who asks.

Example 2a sounds like it could be libel, but if the allegation of “lying” is backed by empirical evidence, it falls under a “true statement” and therefore cannot ruin the reputation of someone if said reputation was based on false pretenses.

Example 2b is clearly libel. There is no evidence to support that Heather 1) is a liar 2) is a whore and 3) will blow any guy who asks. Therefore, these are false statements that are damaging to Heather’s reputation. Heather is already on her way to meet a lawyer now.

Welcome to REAL writing, bloggers! You cannot publish whatever you want. This isn’t ‘Nam. We have rules.

tenor

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