Miami real estate agent Lucas Lechuga began blogging to share his knowledge of the local market. He didn't bargain for a $25 million defamation lawsuit when he wrote that a Miami developer had gone bankrupt decades ago.And didn't check it. Here's his excuse:
Lechuga said he never claimed Hollo filed for bankruptcy, and that the definition of the word "bankrupt" is open to interpretation.That'll work. But this and other, unnamed cases have some living in fear:
"You can say that someone is emotionally bankrupt -- it's the same for financial," Lechuga said. The word bankrupt "could mean they were down in the gutter, that they lost a lot of money," without actually filing for bankruptcy protection in court.
In Lake Geneva, Wis., commodities trader Gary Millitte registered the Internet domain name LakeGenevaNews.com eight years ago, but is so worried about the legal boundaries of writing online that he still hasn't started the ultra-local news site.A few unsourced numbers:
Robert Cox, president of the Media Bloggers Association, said more than 100 judgments valued at $17 million have been handed down against bloggers over the last three years—about 60 percent for defamation, 25 percent for copyright infringement and 10 percent involving privacy.Huh. So anyway:
"It's the tip of the iceberg," Cox said. "Bloggers are being asked to write checks. The threats against bloggers are very real. The costs are very real."
About a dozen would-be reporters navigated the basics of journalism at a recent training offered by the Society of Professional Journalists in Chicago. The group plans similar seminars this month in Greensboro, N.C., and Los Angeles.Read whole thing, but don't try to get me to.