Essay on Fictionalizing Quotations in Journalism – Masson v. New Yorker Magazine

Essay on Fictionalizing Quotations in Journalism – Masson v. New Yorker Magazine

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Jeffrey Masson, a psychoanalyst, served as a Projects Director of the Sigmund Freud Archives when he became disillusioned with Freudian psychology. He was then fired after he tried advancing his own theories (Masson v. New Yorker Magazine, 1991). Janet Malcolm, an author and contributor to New Yorker Magazine, recorded many interviews with Masson and wrote an article containing many lengthy quotes about his relationship with the Sigmund Freud Archives (Masson v. New Yorker Magazine, 1991). Masson had warned New Yorker Magazine’s fact checker Nancy Franklin about many inaccuracies, but the article was published anyway, even though some of the quotes were nowhere to be found on the 40 recorded hours of the interview by Malcolm (Sadler, 2005). On top of being published in the New Yorker Magazine, a book publisher who had heard about the allegations of inaccurateness still decided to publish the quotations into a book, further damaging Masson’s reputation. Masson then decided to bring an action for libel under California Law, saying that six of the quotations were defamatory and were not included in the 40 hours of the recorded interview material (Masson v. New Yorker Magazine, 1991).
Jeffry Masson filed a suit for defamation against New Yorker Magazine, claiming that publishing the so called fabrications had hurt his reputation. Defamation is defined as “a false communication that harms another’s reputation and subjects him to ridicule and scorn” (Trager, 2010, p. 52). The quotations that Masson was the most upset about were being called an “intellectual gigolo” as well as being called “the greatest analyst who ever lived” (Masson v. New Yorker Magazine, 1991). In court Masson was declared a public figure and had to ...

... middle of paper ... a good idea to stay clear of anything involving actual malice, knowledge of falseness, and intentionally altering a statements meaning.

Works Cited

Kinkopf, N. J. (1991). Malice in Wonderland: Fictionalized Quotations and the Constitutionally Compelled Substuntial Truth Doctrine. Case Western Reserve Law Review .
Masson v. New Yorker Magazine, 89-1799 (The United States Court of Appeals June 20, 1991).
Polk, K. M. (1991). Inferring Actual Malice from Altered Quotations: Masson V. New Yorker Magazine Inc. Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy .
Trager, Robert, J. R. (2010). The Law of Journalism & Mass Communication. Washington D.C.: CQ Press.
Sadler, R. (2005). Electronic Media Law. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications Inc.
Villiers, M. d. (2008). Substantial Truth in Defamation Law. New South Wales: University of New South Wales.

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