For the better part of the last century, journalists have used free press and free-speech principles to advocate for camera access to newsworthy trials. But it was not until 2022 that news organizations succeeded in broadcasting defamation proceedings, and—in the process—gave libel litigants a novel opportunity to present their stories both to jurors and to the public at large. Because news organizations are themselves frequent targets of defamation lawsuits, this development may not be a categorical good for the press. The filming of defamation proceedings could provide motivated litigants with one more incentive to sue real and perceived critics, insofar as it could turn a lawsuit into a platform for publicity. This essay examines this tension for the press, situating the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard trial and the Alex Jones damages trials within an environment where anti-press litigants increasingly weaponize libel litigation against the news organizations that cover them.

Included in

Law Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.