Gossip Law



Gossip is old, but the phenomenon of mass-media gossip is of relatively recent origin. In the United States, gossip and “human-interest” journalism—”chatty little reports in tragic or comic incidents in the lives of the people”—became a regular feature the press by the mid-1800s.1 Seeking to achieve a broad popular readership in the burgeoning cities, publishers fashioned the “news” as entertainment. By the end of the century, most newspapers prominently discussed the personal affairs of public figures —actors, politicians, and businessmen —as well as those of ordinary people. The front pages of the papers overflowed with tales about private lives, ranging from stories about scandalous divorce cases and crimes of passion to the mundane activities of daily life.2 This innovation in publishing not only transformed social life and popular culture in the United States but led to significant innovations in the law as well.


Emotional Distress Public Image Public Figure Personal Image Appeal Court 
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© Kathleen A. Feeley and Jennifer Frost 2014

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