The fair report privilege protects republishing “reports of defamatory statements made in judicial and other official proceedings,” in the interest that information from official proceedings be made available to the public. Costello v. Ocean County Observer, 643 A.2d 1012, 1018 (N.J. 1994). The report need not be “exact in every immaterial detail”, only “substantially correct.” However, a publisher who omits exculpatory language from the official report and thereby conveys an erroneous impression will lose the privilege.
For example, the privilege will cover the publication of official statements regarding police investigations, issued by police department heads and county prosecutors, unless the plaintiff can prove actual malice in the publication. See N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:43-1.
Neutral Reportage Privilege
New Jersey courts do not recognize a neutral reportage privilege. However, the extensive protections available under the New Jersey fair report privilege are analogous to a neutral reportage privilege. See Costello, 643 A.2d at 1028 (N.J. 1994) (O'Hern, J., concurring).
Wire Service Defense
The CMLP has not identified any cases in New Jersey concerning the wire service defense.
Statute of Limitations for Defamation
New Jersey has a one (1) year statute of limitations for defamation. See N.J.S.A. 2A:14-3.
New Jersey courts have adopted the single publication rule. Barres v. Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Inc., 378 A.2d 1148, 1151 (N.J. 1977). For a definition of the "single publication rule," see the Statute of Limitations for Defamation section.