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What You Need To Know About Press

What You Need To Know About Press

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What You Need To Know About Press

The 1964 case New York Times v.
Sullivan
 is generally considered one of
the most significant developments in the broadening of the freedom of the press
for the decision which the Supreme Court made on it. The case arose from an
advertisement printed by
 
The New York Times advocating for Martin Luther
King, Jr. and containing statements against the Montgomery, Alabama police
force. Alabama officials who felt offended by the advertisement brought a libel
action against the newspaper.

The Supreme Court found in
favor of the press organization, holding that for libel to be proved the
complainant would have to show that the press had possessed “actual
malice” in reporting facts which they knew to be untrue. This ruling thus
established a new yardstick to which public figures and government figures
would have to measure up to in pressing libel suits against the press. It also
generally acted to expand the right to freedom of the press.

Prior to this ruling, much of
the press felt constrained by libel laws from reporting as fully as they would
have liked on civil rights issues and protests in the South, fearing that the
states in question might sue them for their reporting. The law thus expanded
the ability of the press to widely cover the civil rights issue and other
controversial topics.

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