An Oregon judge ruled that blogging is not protected as journalism under the state’s journalism shield law. If allowed to stand, this sets a truly terrible precedent.
Here’s what the law says:
No person connected with, employed by or engaged in any medium of communication to the public shall be required by … a judicial officer … to disclose, by subpoena or otherwise … [t]he source of any published or unpublished information obtained by the person in the course of gathering, receiving or processing information for any medium of communication to the public[.]
Notice—there is nothing here about working for a recognized mainstream media outlet. By my reading, a guy in a clown suit standing on a milk crate in the park and haranguing a crowd of random passers-by would not have to disclose sources.
Yet here’s what U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez wrote:
. . . although defendant is a self-proclaimed “investigative blogger” and defines herself as “media,” the record fails to show that she is affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system. Thus, she is not entitled to the protections of the law
Hello! Since when does being a journalist require working for mainstream media? This country has a history of independent writers serving a journalistic role going back to those 18th-century “bloggers” Tom Paine and Ben Franklin—those guys didn’t write for the London Times, but started their own publications. Are you going to tell me that Daily Kos, Huffington Post, RedState, Drudge Report, Washington Spectator, and even the legendary I.F. Stone’s Weekly of the 1950s and 1960s have no place in the world of journalism? That the thousands of indy-media-istas who attend the National Conference for Media Reform are spitting in the wind?
And meanwhile, investigative blogger Crystal Cox is facing a $2.5 million judgment because she would not disclose her sources. Out-bloody-rageous!
Shame on you, Judge Hernandez!
Abraham Lincoln said, “It is a sin to be silent when it is your duty to protest.” I am protesting. And I hope voices with more clout than mine, such as FreePress.net, the National Writers Union, Authors Guild, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), People for the American Way, National Coalition Against Censorship, and opinion journalists working for mainstream media (like Rachel Maddow) jump in and protest as well—with amicus briefs filed for the appeal.