For this hypothetical situation, what type of lawsuit could the student file(and specific cause of action) and what would he have to prove for it to be successful? What types of defenses could the reporter attempt to use?
A reporter for a local newspaper is working on a story about students who have struggled with drug addiction. An intern at the paper tells the reporter that his former roommate, William Johnson, successfully completed a rehab program last year, and the intern gives the reporter extensive details about Johnson’s experience with cocaine addiction. The reporter calls Johnson to request an interview, but Johnson is out of town and can’t be reached. The reporter is on deadline and goes forward with the story without talking to Johnson. In the story, the reporter names Johnson and uses Johnson’s experience as an example of how rehab can help people recover. Johnson, who is a typical student and is not prominent on campus in any activities or groups, is angry when he sees his name in the paper and comes to your law office. Johnson tells you that the information in the story is true but that he never gave his former roommate permission to talk about his personal life. Johnson is upset by the story and asks if he has any legal recourse against the paper.