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10 Comm. L. & Pol'y 1 (2005)

handle is hein.journals/comulp10 and id is 1 raw text is: 









COMMUNICATION LAW AND POLICY
Volume 10                Winter 2005                Number 1
Copyright © 2005 Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.





THE FIRST AMENDMENT
AND CREDIBILITY:
REVISITING NELSON
V. MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS


JON PAUL DILTS*


        When the Washington Supreme Court held that a
        newspaper had a First Amendment right to control the
        personal, political activity of reporters, despite state law
        to the contrary, it triggered a flurry of criticism. Aside
        from raising important questions about individual
        rights, the case also raises a question about the nature
        of the press as an expressive assembly. The decision
        reflects an understanding of the press as an ideological
        organization committed to core democratic beliefs.
        Positioning a news organization within that ideology
        results in expansive protections under the Press Clause.
        In Washington, for example, the court's decision reflects
        a kind of thinking traditionally seen in expressive
        assembly cases, resulting in the elevation of the
        journalistic principle of credibility to First
        Amendment status.

  The First Amendment, the courts tell us, is a zealous protector
of the speech of the good as well as of the bad, and maybe even of
the ugly. It protects the speech of religious zealots, pornographers
and scurrilous scoundrels in much the same way it protects the
speech of saints and saviors. It does not inquire into character, nor



  *Associate professor and former associate dean, School of Journalism,
Indiana University.

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