What is libel?

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Libel is defamation of a person that is in a published work. Libel is a form of defamation; the other is slander which is defamation through spoken words.

Libel happens when the person or object was exposed to shame, hatred, contempt and ridicule because of the published words. Libel also happens when the object’s reputation was injured or if the published work has resulted in the shunning of the object. A work is also libelous if the object’s work was damaged or injured because of the written words.

Libel explained

For example, a published work is considered libelous if it is written that a person has a contagious medical condition which resulted in people avoiding the said person or object and if the said illness of the object is not true.

The report or written work must contain false statements in order for a written work to be considered as libelous. Information about the object that can possibly be true is not considered as libelous.

The published work refers to the fact that the libelous sentences are told or have reached another person outside of the person being referred to. This means that an article was reproduced digitally or given to other people as well. A false report that damaged another person that was published online or in newspapers that have many subscribers can be considered as libelous.

When something is not libelous

There are several ways that a journalist can defend himself or herself in libel cases.

A written report is only considered as libelous if the report is absolutely false. If the reporter writes about something that is truthful and then it will not and cannot be considered as libelous regardless if there has been damage to the object’s reputation.

Likewise, reports that are accurate like official proceedings or meeting are not considered as libelous.

Works that are published under the opinion sections of the newspapers are also not considered libelous even if the article contains negative expressions about another person.