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Posts Tagged ‘lawsuits’

The Cost Of Candor — $3,150

In behavior, business, Media, Money, news, politics, religion, science, sports, Technology, work on October 26, 2010 at 10:33 pm
Albion Press printing press

Image via Wikipedia

That’s the quote I received this week for the liability insurance I plan to buy. It covers my new book, “Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail” (Penguin/Portfolio, April 14, 2011) and freelancing for print and blogging for this site. It carries a $5,000 deductible.

While three grand is a petty sum to many people, it is not to me. It is a bloody fortune. But the drama and stress of being sued is so not worth it to me.

The fear of being sued is why most blogs are all about puppies and kittens and sex and recipes — safe stuff no one will come after you for.

Which is why most blogs have this effect on anyone hungry for serious, in-depth news, analysis or reporting: zzzzzzzzzzzzz. No one in their right mind is itching for a lawsuit and Americans are deeply addicted to the lottery ticket of a big fat win.

Not to mention the fear of SLAPP suits. These are Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, aka muzzles. If you piss off just about anyone, they can come after you and sue you to shut you right back up. Freedom of what?

In an era of staggering, growing income inequality, you can rest assured that anyone eager to rake muck is making a whole lot less money — maybe 1 percent? — of the people they might want to write about critically. This is, hmmm, how you say, de-motivating in the extreme. Do readers even know this?

Do they — you — even care?

Very few writers of any ambition want to keep biting their tongue, self-censoring, sitting on what they know to be a potentially explosive story. But, why bother? What’s the upside of being the writer or blogger best-known for becoming a cautionary tale? Oooops, s/he took a risk. Look what happened!

The irony is that everyone now thinks that being able to blog at will means being able to say anything you want. Mwahahahahahaha.

As if.

It really means you have all the freedom in the world, certainly if you have little to no understanding of media law, to get your ass sued.

It used to be said that freedom of the press belonged to those who owned one. Now that freedom only truly resides in the deep(er) pockets of those who can afford to get sued and defend themselves — people who work on staff for major news organizations with in-house counsel. More importantly, their copy is “lawyered”, vetted carefully before print or broadcast to avoid such debacles, a luxury — when top New York attorneys can command $700+/hour — most bloggers and freelancers can only dream of.

So, instead of muckraking and investigative work, the sort of thing you’d expect from someone independent, free of corporate ties, most freelancers are stuck cranking out polite, celebratory crap.

This is progress?

Who're You Calling A Terrorist? Bethlehem Shopkeeper Sues Cohen, Maker of 'Bruno', For $110 Million

In Crime, entertainment on December 10, 2009 at 8:12 am
Baron Cohen as Brüno

Image via Wikipedia

A Bethlehem shopkeeper is suing actor and filmmaker Sacha Baron Cohen — aka Bruno — for labeling him as a terrorist in his film of that name, and describing him as that on the David Letterman show. Ayman Abu Aita says his reputation has been damaged as a result of the fim and its surrounding international publicity. The suit also names Larry Charles, the film’s director and Universal, its distributor.

Ayman Abu Aita is suing Baron Cohen, U.S. talk show host David Letterman and others for libel and slander according to a lawsuit filed in the District of Columbia federal court last week.

The actor and comic Baron Cohen plays a gay Austrian fashion journalist in the film, which was released in the UK in July. Keen to become what he calls “the most famous Austrian since Hitler,” Bruno travels to the middle east, and in a short interview with Abu Aita, asks to be kidnapped in an attempt to become famous.

A caption labels Abu Aita as a member of the militant al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, the armed wing of the Fatah movement. He is a member of the board of the Holy Land trust, a non-profit organisation that works on Palestinian community-building.

Cohen was interviewed on David Letterman’s talkshow in the US, and said finding a “terrorist” to interview for the movie took several months and some help from a CIA contact.

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