A rare bit of (mostly) good news for the media: libel lawsuits in America have nearly disappeared. Newspapers are now getting their revenge, by suing the entire blogosphere unto ruination (they hope!).
John Koblin has a fascinating piece in the NYO today about the remarkable decline in libel suits against newspapers—"libel trials in the 2000s were down more than 50 percent from the 1980s," with only nine suits recorded in all of 2009.
Experts attribute the decline to the web's ability to provide instant corrections and a platform to soothe aggrieved parties before they sue, as well as the possibility that broke news organizations are less willing to pursue controversial stories that might lead to libel suits. And now, a newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is proving that the media itself is just as ready as its former libel-shouting opponents to quash the work of those who displease it. The paper is just suing the hell out of every blogger that reprints portions of its stories. The following blockquote courtesy of James Rainey, LA Times!
[The LVRJ's law firm] has filed roughly 40 lawsuits in recent weeks against all manner of publishers, including the cat blog (allegrawong.com) and sites that follow motorcycle racing, emergency medicine, advertising and sports betting.
Get em! Once you put that cat blog outta business, readers will come flocking back to the LVRJ, Sin City's second-best broadsheet! The war to inform the public must be won in the courthourse! Drive the bloggers into penury! Raze the internet! The future of newspapers is tomorrow!