October 13, 2022

Media Advisory: SIU experts can discuss implications of jury verdict against Alex Jones

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — A Connecticut jury’s decision on Oct. 12 ordering Infowars founder Alex Jones to pay $965 million in damages to the families of eight of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting for years of falsely claiming the massacre was a hoax brings with it issues of media responsibility, including podcasts and other social media platforms.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale experts in journalism and media law can discuss issues surrounding defamation, media responsibility and whether this decision could affect reporting.

SIU Carbondale’s experts include:

William Freivogel, professor, School of Journalism and Advertising. The award-winning journalist, who earned a law degree in 2001, has interests that include media law and public affairs and policy. He has written extensively on libel and reported on it as a journalist. Freivogel can be reached at wfreivogel@gmail.com or 314-322-0396.

Freivogel said, “The huge verdict is a loud answer to the lies and conspiracy theories of people like Jones. Let’s hope Jones’ attempts to avoid paying by hiding his money in a manufactured bankruptcy won’t enable him to shelter his fortune built on lies. The Dominion voting machine cases also offer a way to punish people who mislead the nation on important issues such as who won the presidential election.”

Shelly Page, law professor and director of experiential education, SIU School of Law. Page can be reached at cheryl.page@siu.edu or 618-453-8120.

“The Alex Jones case should serve as a stark reminder to Trump, and others, that words matter,” Page said. “We cannot throw out blatantly false statements and think that those words do not have consequences.”