By: Mark Fitzgerald
News organizations went four for five in court last year, setting a record for both the lowest number of trials for libel and privacy claims, and the highest percentage of media victories in the 22 years the New York City-based Media Law Resource Center (MLRC) has tracked trials.
The 2002 results continue a trend established over those two decades towards fewer trials and more news media victories at the trial level without the necessity of appeals. In the 1980s, the MLRC said, news organizations faced an average of 26.5 trials per year, which dropped to 21.8 in the 1990s, and is 11.7 so far this decade. The media win rate has also increased to 53% this decade, from 41.1% in the 1990s and 34.8% in the 1980s. More information on the study is available at the MLRC Web site, http://www.medialaw.org.