How to Sue a Newspaper for Libel

Libel is the act of publishing statements known to be false, which injure or have significant potential to injure their subject on a personal or financial basis. Newspaper publishers are among the most common targets of libel lawsuits in the United States, and frequently make successful appeals to freedom of the press in libel cases. Be prepared to prove your case beyond any reasonable doubt.

Recognize that the statute of limitations regarding libel differ from one state to another in the United States. The law pages at (see Resources below) offers comprehensive limitations information. From there, you can also navigate to external Web pages that contain further information on the different laws of specific states.

Research the history of the newspaper to see whether others have successfully sued them for libel in the past. Gather details of any past cases and incorporate any significantly similar cases into your arsenal of evidence.

Contact the newspaper and ask them to publish a recanting of the libelous statements if you feel the damage done to your reputation can be corrected by such action. This may save you the time and expense of a potentially unsuccessful lawsuit.

Keep records of all correspondence with the newspaper publisher made prior to your attempt to sue and be prepared to gather and disclose personal and financial information in court. You will have to prove significant injury for which the newspaper is liable in order to win your lawsuit.

Retain the services of a libel specialist, preferably a newspaper libel specialist whenever possible. You can use AttorneyPages (see Resources below) for direct links to lists of personal injury law firms in each U.S. state. If you have grounds to sue, your attorney will advise you of the necessary course of action.


Authors have considerably more leeway under the freedom of speech laws in the United States than in other countries. To compensate for the rights provided by the First Amendment, you should be prepared to show beyond reasonable doubt that the newspaper libel caused you signficant and tangible hardship.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer with Internet access
  • Libel lawyer (highly recommended)
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