Q&A: Retraction demand

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The following question came from The Mail-Journal (Milford):

Q: A developer has served a retraction demand on the newspaper for its story pointing out his ties to a naturist resort in another state. The demand insists that the newspaper print his response to the story in full (newspaper printed an edited version) and retract statements that created false innuendos in the public’s minds. Are we required to publish a retraction?

A: Indiana’s retraction statute requires the aggrieved party to state the false statements that need to be corrected. In this case, it doesn’t appear that the individual has identified any false statements, but believes the mention of his naturist beliefs will drive away potential local investors from his development proposal. The newspaper doesn’t have an obligation to retract a true statement that might put the developer in a less than favorable position before investors. I wouldn’t ignore the request but would respond by pointing out that the developer hasn’t identified false statements that should be retracted.

Have a media law question for Stephen Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel? Contact him at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

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