"In 2009, out of the hundreds of filings in various United States state and federal courts, just nine defamation matters went to trial in the USA, a staggeringly low number in historical terms.
"Traditional media outlets are enjoying a rare peace. What could account for the apparent demise of the libel plaintiff? Where have the aggrieved complainants gone?
"Among the potential answers mulled over by conference attendees was the recession and the cost of bringing an action against a media company and the disincentive this must be for potential plaintiffs – in a land where costs are rarely granted to the victorious party, even if damages are awarded.
"Another suggestion: in the four decades since New York Times v. Sullivan (1964), public figure plaintiffs have finally worked out that they are on a losing bet in this country and taken their grievances to more plaintiff-friendly surroundings.
"A more plausible theory held that complainants had more options available to them in the digital age."