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Music critic sues paper and orchestra for defamation

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  1. Libel and Privacy
A classical music critic is suing his employer, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, for libel after he was demoted for, he claims, writing too…

A classical music critic is suing his employer, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, for libel after he was demoted for, he claims, writing too many negative reviews of the Cleveland Orchestra, The New York Times reported.

Donald Rosenberg claimed orchestra officials waged a "campaign of vilification" against him for his reporting, according to The Times.  The suit traced the alleged "punitive and retributive campaign" to a column Rosenberg wrote in 2004 in which the music director compared Cleveland to "an inflated farmer’s village" while on tour.

“It’s key that people realize that journalists have to be given the freedom to operate without pressure from outside sources,” Mr. Rosenberg said to The Times.

In addition to the orchestra’s managing company and corporate officials, the suit names The Plain Dealer and editor Susan Goldberg, The Times reported.  With regard to the orchestra officials, Rosenberg alleged defamation and tortious interference with his job; Goldberg is accused of age discrimination and violating his free speech rights under the state constitution.

Robert Duvin, lawyer for the orchestra, told The Times, “It’s a funny grievance coming from a lifetime reporter, that the people that he writes about have an obligation to stay silent."

The suit alleged that orchestra officials met with Goldberg earlier this year to complain about Rosenberg’s reporting, and that the following month, Goldberg told Rosenberg that his "consistently negative" and "predictable" reviews compromised the newspaper’s integrity. Rosenberg still works for The Plain Dealer as a music reporter and dance critic.