Dynamist Blog

Reckless Disregard for Reality

Jack Shafer eviscerates David Shaw's latest anti-blog ravings. I particularly liked this point, since it jumped out at me when I read the story--and should have jumped out at Shaw's editors. (You do have editors, don't you?)

According to Shaw, regular journalists strive harder than bloggers for accuracy because of their greater legal exposure. He writes: "If I'm careless — if I am guilty of what the courts call a 'reckless disregard for the truth'--The Times could be sued for libel...and could lose a lot of money." Doesn't Shaw appreciate that Joe Blogger can be sued, too, and that if he loses his case could be forced to forfeit his house, his bank account, his car, and his Fiestaware collection? On the face of it, Joe Blogger would seem to have a greater incentive to avoid libel than Shaw, whose employer will cover his legal bills and take the financial hit in case of a legal judgment.

The chances of the LAT or any big newspaper losing a libel suit are virtually nil, given the difficulty of proving a reckless disregard for the truth. The cost is in fighting the suit, something the typical blogger couldn't afford.

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