IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Reporter's Privilege and Incentives to Leak


  • Baum Ido

    (College of Management School of Law, Rishon Le Zion, Israel)

  • Feess Eberhard

    (Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, Germany)

  • Wohlschlegel Ansgar

    (University of Bonn, Germany)


Journalists sued for defamation may refuse to reveal their anonymous sources. To escape liability under the traditional English rule, they then need to show proof that the news is correct. By contrast, many US states have switched the burden of proof such that plaintiffs must first present evidence that the news is false. Focusing on the incentives of sources to leak, we find that the American rule reduces the frequency of type I errors (true stories are not learned by the society) at the expense of a higher frequency of type II errors (the society believes wrong stories). The American rule is superior when courts are likely to find the truth without knowing the identity of sources, and when firms can severely punish even honest sources. Furthermore, when courts rule that sources must be revealed, they should ensure a higher compliance rate of journalists under the American rule.

Suggested Citation

  • Baum Ido & Feess Eberhard & Wohlschlegel Ansgar, 2009. "Reporter's Privilege and Incentives to Leak," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 701-715, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:rlecon:v:5:y:2009:i:1:n:28

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: For access to full text, subscription to the journal or payment for the individual article is required.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert Cooter & Winand Emons, 2003. "Truth-Revealing Mechanisms for Courts," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 159(2), pages 259-259, June.
    2. Ian Bradley, "undated". "Economic Aspects of Defamation Law and the Media," Discussion Papers in Public Sector Economics 96/7, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
    3. Nuno Garoupa, 1999. "Dishonesty and Libel Law: The Economics of the "Chilling" Effect," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 155(2), pages 284-284, June.
    4. Hyun Song Shin, 1998. "Adversarial and Inquisitorial Procedures in Arbitration," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(2), pages 378-405, Summer.
    5. Polinsky, A Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1989. "Legal Error, Litigation, and the Incentive to Obey the Law," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 99-108, Spring.
    6. Daniel L. Rubinfeld & David E.M. Sappington, 1987. "Efficient Awards and Standards of Proof in Judicial Proceedings," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(2), pages 308-315, Summer.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bpj:rlecon:v:5:y:2009:i:1:n:28. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Peter Golla). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.