Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal

Article Title

The Right to Misquote


Marta Stanton


This article explores whether the First Amendment protects journalists who materially alter quotations from liability for defamation. The journalist's right of freedom of speech and the speaker's rights came in direct conflict in the case of Masson v. New Yorker Magazine, which provides the touchstone for this article. The author addresses the meaning of actual malice in the context of altered quotations and the journalist's responsibility to respect the meaning of quotation marks. This article concludes that a journalist who materially alters a quotation has gone too far and has acted with knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth and should be liable for defamation.