A daily’s loss in court may cause journalists to rethink how they communicate

Corey Hutchins | Columbia Journalism Review

Journalists across the country are assessing the fallout a week after a North Carolina jury awarded nearly $6 million in libel verdicts against The Raleigh News & Observer and one of its reporters.

The case seems to provide more evidence that the growing unpopularity of media may translate into less-sympathetic jury pools when news organizations face lawsuits. Adding to worries among newsroom leaders are the ways outsiders, including jurors on the N&O case, interpret internal communications among reporters, sources, and editors.

The N&O is also the latest to find out how willing juries can be to award large damages when they believe a journalist has done someone wrong—in this case concluding the paper and reporter Mandy Locke libeled a state firearms investigator who was the subject of a story for an award-winning 2010 N&O investigation called “Agents’ Secrets.” Continue reading.

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