Arizona-based Taser International is suing Gannett, parent to USA Today and the company’s hometown paper the Arizona Republic, for an article in USAT comparing its products to electric chairs and other sordid instruments of torture or death.
The company, which conducted its share of crisis management in the recent past — not the least of which was the resignation from its Board of now-defamed Bernard Kerik’s following his headline-making revelations — had nonetheless electrified The Street last year with its high voltage stock performance.
Suing a newspaper can be a dicey affair, and should only be used after all other means are exhausted, e.g., an attempt to gain more balance in the original story, the submission of a letter-to-the-editor, a suggestion for a follow-up story, or a request for a retraction. Tonality in a story, however, is not a basis for seeking a retraction. The publication of erroneous information is, and if that info materially hurts the company, then a lawsuit may be warranted.