The decision of the court on the New York Times versus Sullivan case sent shock waves throughout both the media fraternity and all public office holders. The court ruled that for a ruling to be made in favor of any public officer suing the fourth estate the public officer had to beyond the shadow of a doubt prove the intent of malice on the part of the fourth estate. The court further ruled that negligence or ignorance does not constitute to malice and for the public officer to get a decision that had to prove evidence of malice and also prove that the press had knowledge of the actual truth but instead chose to publish their own malicious version of it.
This decision has made it extremely difficult verging on impossible for public officers to seek intervention of the courts even when they are really being victimized by the press. Proof of malice and prior knowledge of the truth can be very hard to prove to the jury thus the fourth estate got a blank cheque as far as their published content regarding public figures is concerned (Hall, Urofsky, 2011). The press finds itself protected by law and given the license to act with impunity as proving a case against them can turn out to be very strenuous.
The court however upheld the first amendment rights of the press regarding freedom of speech and expression. This act by the court has gone a long way in taming the general demeanor of public servants as far as the dispensation of their duties is concerned (McGlone, 2005). Public servants now find it extremely difficult to exercise any inconsistencies as far as the dispensation of their duty is concerned and this has led to reception of better service by the general public.
Hall, K., & Urofsky, M. I. (2011). New York Times v. Sullivan: civil rights, libel law, and the free press. Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas.
McGlone, C. (2005). New York Times v. Sullivan and the freedom of the press debate: debating Supreme Court decisions. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers.