At this stage in the process, all the considerations discussed above should continue to be borne in mind. However, there are other points that can be considered only as the story begins to take shape, such as:
1. Who Is Likely to Sue? In addition to the principal subject(s) of the story, there may be others, both named and unnamed, who may object to the description of their involvement in the matter.
(a) Named Subjects: Are people other than the principal subject "tarred with the same brush"? Can they claim damage to their business, even if they are not personally criticized? Is a supervisor implicated in a story about charges against his or her subordinates?
(b) Unnamed People: People need not be identified by name if they are identifiable from the context. Would a "respectable minority" of the population recognize their identity from the context of the article or extraneous facts?
(c) Groups: Libelous statements about one or more members of a small group may give a right to every member of the group to sue. This is especially dangerous if the statements are intended to refer to only certain members of the group. On the other hand, libelous statements about a large group will not support a libel case, as the damaging statements are presumed not to reach the reputation of individual members. However, an established organization may be libeled in its own right if the statements are damaging to the established reputation of the organization itself. In such cases, only the organization can sue, and then only on the basis of actual damage to the organization, not to its members.
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