Defamation Law's Chilling Effect: A Comparative Content Analysis of Australian and Us Newspapers
Media and Arts Law Review, Vol. 9, No. 89, 2004
39 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2004
This article reports on a comparative content analysis of more than 1,400 Australian and US newspaper articles. The study suggests that in the US - where defamation plaintiffs face much heavier burdens than under Australian law - defamatory allegations are made more frequently against both political and corporate actors than in Australia. The US articles contained apparently defamatory allegations at nearly three times the rate of the Australian sample. In particular, the Australian media appeared to be less comfortable making allegations in relation to corporate affairs than its US counterpart. In addition, some US articles included far more extreme commentary than the Australian sample, which suggests a less restrained style of public debate may be fostered under US law. Through introducing comparative content analysis to Australian media law research, the article supports the idea that Anglo-Australian defamation law has a chilling effect media speech.
Keywords: defamation, Australia, United States, media, newspaper, chilling effect of defamation law, content analysis, comparative, defamatory allegations, media speech
JEL Classification: K19, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation