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This article discusses the traditional law of defamation, with particular emphasis on standards of liability and proof of compensatory damages, and points out inconsistencies in these rules and problems with their application. It analyzes two major Supreme Court decisions that concern libel of public figures and officials and libel of private-citizen plaintiffs. This article then discusses three recent Tennessee cases and their impact upon the state's defamation law. It finds that a less complex, more uniform law of defamation is needed in light of the intricacies of traditional defamation law and its recent changes at the Supreme Court and state court levels. In conclusion this article will suggest alterations in the standards of liability and in the proof of compensatory damages that would be a significant step toward the creation of such a uniform law.

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