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Newsroom Alert


Doug Pierce

Newsroom Alert provides you with the latest updates in First Amendment and other legal issues related to news gathering and reporting, including reviews of recent state and federal court decisions.  Some of the many topics include libel, copyright, privacy, and access to records and meetings.

Doug Pierce is a Partner at King & Ballow. He also serves as General Counsel for the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters and President of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government.  He is a frequent writer on legal issues related to newsroom topics; he co-authors portions of the Media Law Resource Center’s annual 50 state surveys for Libel and Privacy.

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Public official must prove actual malice about non-official acts

Monday, 06 June 2016 11:47


The Texas Supreme Court recently held the actual malice standard applies to public officials, even if the published story or statement does not refer to their official capacity as a public official.


Court denies the access to investigative file of ongoing rape case

Thursday, 12 May 2016 13:56


In late June of 2013, the Nashville Police Department began an investigation of the rape of a university student that allegedly occurred in a Vanderbilt University dorm on the morning of June 23, 2013. Two months later in August of 2013, a grand jury indicted four members of the Vanderbilt University football team with five counts each of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. One of the individuals was also charged with unlawful photography and tampering of evidence. On October 2, 2013, the Criminal Court issued an agreed protective order that allowed only the attorneys for the defendants to receive copies of photos and videos taken during the investigation. 


No Constitutional right to record police activities

Monday, 04 April 2016 09:53


There is no First Amendment right to observe and record police officers absent some other expressive conduct, a federal district court in Pennsylvania ruled last month. This is a ruling that has generated considerable disagreement from members of the news media. 


South Carolina appeals court upholds jury’s award in lobbyist’s defamation case

Tuesday, 01 March 2016 09:18


The jury’s verdicts against a reporter and a newspaper publisher in a defamation case stands, a South Carolina court of appeals ruled last month.


Newspaper sued over why son committed suicide

Friday, 12 February 2016 11:00


This case arises out of a sad set of facts. A healthy, popular, athletic 16 year old boy who had no history of mental illness was involved in a car accident. After he made it home from the accident, he began consuming alcohol. A concerned friend went to the home of the boy’s parents to find the son dazed, confused, irrational and incoherent. The son then shot himself in the head. 


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