Where the court draws the line on fairness and accuracy varies by jurisdiction. Consult your state guide for specifics.

Neutral Report Privilege

Although not widely adopted, the neutral reportage privilege is designed to protect the interests of the press in reporting on matters of public interest, which can often only be done by reporting accusations made by one public figure about another. Without a neutral reportage privilege, if you publish what another person has said or written and that statement turns out to be defamatory, you may be liable for defamation even if you stated that you believed the allegation was untrue. In other words, with limited exceptions, you step into the shoes of those whom you quote or republish on your site.

Keep in mind that not all states recognize the neutral reportage privilege or apply it to non-traditional publishers, so check your state's defamation section to confirm that you are covered. In those states that do recognize the privilege, it will generally apply where:

A responsible, prominent organization or individual;

Makes a serious charge on a matter of public interest;

Against another public figure or organization; and

The charge is accurately and disinterestedly reported.
Edwards v. National Audubon Soc., 556 F.2d 113 (2d Cir. 1977).

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