Does a newsperson's privilege extends to a self-described journalist who posted comments on an Internet message board? SUPREME COURT DECISION

by Joel Kreizman


A-7 September Term 2010


206 N.J. 209; 20 A.3d 364; 2011 N.J. LEXIS 629; 39 Media L. Rep. 1849

February 8, 2011, Argued

June 7, 2011, Decided


On appeal from the Superior Court, Appellate Divi-sion, whose opinion is reported at 413 N.J. Super. 135, 993 A.2d 845 (2010).

Too Much Media, LLC v. Hale, 413 N.J. Super. 135, 993 A.2d 845, 2010 N.J. Super. LEXIS 62 (App.Div., 2010)


(This syllabus is not part of the opinion of the Court. It has been prepared by the Office of the Clerk for the convenience of the reader. It has been neither reviewed nor approved by the Supreme Court. Please note that, in the interests of brevity, portions of any opinion may not have been summarized).

Too Much Media, LLC, et al. v. Shellee Hale (A-7-10)(066074)

Argued February 8, 2011 -- Decided June 7, 2011

RABNER, C.J., writing for a unanimous Court.

In this defamation claim by Too Much Media, LLC, and its principals (collectively, "TMM") against Shellee Hale, the Court considers whether the newsperson's privilege extends to a self-described journalist who posted comments on an Internet message board.

After defendant Hale was exposed through her com-puter to "cyber flashers" using web cameras, she looked into how technology was used to abuse women and de-cided to investigate the online adult entertainment indus-try. Hale claims that she spoke with government offi-cials, attended industry trade shows, interviewed people, and collected information from porn web blogs. In 2007, Hale [***2] created a website called Pornafia, which was intended to be an online news magazine and bulletin board for the public to exchange information about criminal activity within the adult entertainment industry. Pornafia was never fully launched, however. Instead, Hale posted comments on other sites' message boards. One of the message boards, Oprano, provided an online platform for people to post unfiltered comments relating to the industry. Most of the content of Oprano was open to anyone with Internet access.

Plaintiff TMM manufactures software known as NATS, which adult entertainment websites use to keep track of access to affiliated websites and determine what commissions are due the referring sites. In late 2007, Hale's investigation focused on reports of a security breach of the NATS database, which potentially exposed personal information of customers who believed they had signed up anonymously for pornographic websites. Hale claims she conducted a detailed probe of the breach, in-cluding talking with sources on a confidential basis. She posted multiple entries on Oprano's message board sug-gesting that TMM had violated New Jersey law, had profited from the breach, and its principals [***3] had threatened people who questioned their conduct, includ-ing one of her confidential sources.

TMM filed a complaint against Hale alleging defa-mation and false light. TMM sought to depose Hale dur-ing discovery. Hale moved for a protective order, assert-ing that she was a reporter entitled to the protections of New Jersey's Shield Law, N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-21 to -21.8--a statute that allows news reporters to protect the confiden-tiality of sources and news or information gathered dur-ing the course of their work. The trial court ordered an evidentiary hearing to resolve the parties' dispute over the issue. After considering her testimony, the trial court concluded that Hale did not qualify for protection under the Shield Law...

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

Reference Info: Decision | State, 3rd Circuit, New Jersey | United States

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Joel Kreizman, Scarinci & Hollenbeck, LLC | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Joel Kreizman

Scarinci & Hollenbeck, LLC on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.