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Forums & Blogs

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Story Comments

We encourage fair comment and discussion about Johnson City Press stories used on It's important for those posting to remember that while comments may be conversational in nature they are subject to the same rules of libel as all other published material. To that end, users posting or blogers must prepare their copy within the same legal boundaries as professional journalists and are subject to the same libel laws as professional journalists. There are numerous reference works about libel law in print on the Web that may be consulted if there are questions. In general, libel is injury to reputation. The Associated Press libel manual says, "Words, pictures or cartoon that expose a person to public hatred, shame, disgrace or ridicule, or induce an ill opinion of a person are libelous." "Actions for civil libel result mainly in stories that allege crime, fraud, dishonesty, immoral or dishonorable conduct, or stories that defame the subject professionally, causing financial loss either personal or to a business." There is only one complete and unconditional defense to civil action for libel. That defense is that the facts in the story are provably true. The AP libel manual also points out: "The publication of defamatory matter that consists of comment and opinion, as distinguished from fact, with reference to matters of public interest or importance, is covered by the defense of fair comment as long as the facts stated are true." "Everyone has the right to comment on matters of public interest and concern, provided they do so fairly and with an honest purpose. Such comments or criticism are not libelous, however severe in their terms, unless they are written maliciously." Posts that are in all capital letters, have an inordinate number of errors or have gross errors in fact will be rejected. Posts that are potentially libelous or otherwise inappropriate will be removed. Posting comments also requires a valid e-mail address as part of the user's profile. Comments that are not backed up by a valid e-mail address will be deleted as will the profile without a valid e-mail address. Repeat offenders will be prohibited from commenting. Those who find such a comment on our site should report it to the site editor.

Associated Press Content

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Use of Materials

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