Abbott Signs Law Giving Reporters Extra Libel Protection - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

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Abbott Signs Law Giving Reporters Extra Libel Protection



    Abbott Signs Law Giving Reporters Extra Libel Protection
    Getty Images
    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference at the Wimberley Community Center May 25, 2015 in Wimberly, Texas. Abbott toured the damage zone where one person is confirmed dead and at least 12 others missing in flooding along the Rio Blanco, which reports say rose as much as 40 feet in places, caused by more than 10 inches of rain over a four-day period. The governor earlier declared a state of emergency in 24 Texas counties. (Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)

    Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law a measure further shielding journalists from libel lawsuits if they accurately report a whistleblower's allegations -- even if they turn out to be false.

    The bill-signing took place late Thursday. The protection initially appeared stalled, but rallied after lengthy negotiations between organizations that represent journalists and trial lawyers.

    All sides eventually agreed that accuracy in reporting is a defense to libel.

    Advocates say the practice has been common in Texas for years. But the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas said the need for more clearly sating such protections arose from a 2014 state Supreme Court ruling that left Texas' libel law nebulous.

    Lawyer Laura Lee Prather, the foundation's legislative co-chair, said the new law protects reporting that "can save lives and money."

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