Lawyer Chris Murphy and Daily Telegraph columnist Annette Sharp (Images: AAP/David Moir; Daily Telegraph)

The media continues its long losing streak in defamation litigation, especially in the Federal Court where cases are heard by judges without a jury. Mind you, while I maintain the view that our defamation law is ridiculously plaintiff-friendly and is preventing the media from playing its proper role in society, the industry could do itself a favour by publishing less utter shit.

Which is exactly what the Murdoch rag The Daily Telegraph did via its gossip columnist Annette Sharp last year, giving the celebrity criminal lawyer Chris Murphy an easy win with a bafflingly high damages payout.

Sharp reported (breathlessly, as the gossip genre requires) that Murphy and his wife had split up, with accompanying details about which the judge said “it is difficult to see [that they] had any real public interest … it was an unpleasant and invasive article”.