Newspapers "Lose Battle but Win War" in Landmark Defamation Case



    Intervention by CNA, Globe and Mail, and Canadian Media Lawyers
    Association Helps Set New Benchmark

    TORONTO, Nov. 14 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Newspaper Association (CNA)
hails yesterday's ruling by a panel of Ontario judges that a "public interest
responsible journalism defence" should be accepted in law, a move that will
permit much greater scope for news reporting that carries a risk of litigation
for defamation.
    However, despite this important victory for Canadian news media, in the
same ruling the Ontario Court of Appeal refused to overturn a defamation award
against The Ottawa Citizen, on the grounds that the "responsible journalism"
defence had not been litigated in the lower court when the defamation case was
originally heard. The case had been brought by an OPP constable who, on his
own initiative, went to New York City to participate in 9/11 search and rescue
operations.
    "This is akin to losing a key battle, but winning the war on principle,"
said CNA President and CEO Anne Kothawala, who described the ruling as
"important and precedent-setting." The CNA, the Globe and Mail and the
Canadian Media Lawyers Association intervened as a media coalition in the
appeal, advocating that the "public interest responsible journalism" defence
be accepted in Canadian law.
    "The old law unduly chilled freedom of expression," Ms. Kothawala said.
"Responsible journalism is the point at which a fair balance is held between
freedom of expression and protection of the reputation of individuals. The old
law tilted far too far in favour of protecting reputation, even in the face of
entirely responsible journalism in the public interest. A far more reasonable
balance has now been achieved."
    The full text of the ruling has been posted on the CNA website
www.cna-acj.ca

    About the Canadian Newspaper Association

    The Canadian Newspaper Association is the voice of Canada's daily
newspaper industry. We promote the positive reputation of newspapers as an
essential medium that benefits all Canadians, and as an effective vehicle for
advertisers. The CNA is a vigorous champion of journalistic freedom and
democratic reform and is a valued source of industry information, trends and
best practices.




For further information:

For further information: David Gollob, Canadian Newspaper Association,
Cell: (613) 301-6162, dgollob@cna-acj.ca

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Canadian Newspaper Association

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