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Literary Journalism on Trial: Masson 5, New Yorker and the First Amendment Hardcover – July 31, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


Kathy Roberts Forde has chosen a fascinating case, Masson v. New Yorker, through which to analyze the history and theory of libel law in the United States, and she has identified and convincingly articulated the critical epistemological issues inhering in legal treatments of journalistic speech in that area. The writing is lively and engaging, and the legal analysis impressive in its mastery and logic. --Martha Merrill Umphrey, coeditor of The Place of Law

Literary Journalism on Trial makes an important contribution to our understanding of First Amendment law, an understanding reflecting the historical tension between objective and literary journalism that plays out in the court room. . . . The chapter dealing with the history of libel claims and lawsuits against the New Yorker alone is an original contribution. But in addition, Kathy Roberts Forde delivers on her promise to provide the cultural history that laid the groundwork for the confrontation between Jeffrey Masson and Janet Malcolm. --John Hartsock, author of A History of American Literary Journalism

The book provides a feast of behind-the scenes minutiae, meticulously tracking in particular the labyrinthe legal developments set in train when Masson filed his libel suit, triggering a dispute that would occupy the federal court system for 12 years. Forde argues persuasively that besides fueling the ethics debate, the case led to interpretations of libel law that would have significant implications for the defence of robust democratic debate. --Australian Journalism Review

About the Author

Kathy Roberts Forde is assistant professor of journalism and mass communication at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

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