Judge Says Blogs Not Legitimate News Source; No Shield Protections
from the seems-to-leave-a-lot-of-leeway dept
Back in May we wrote about a lawsuit questioning whether or not a blogger could use journalism shield laws to protect a source who sent her info she used for a blog post. The company the info was about is suing her for slander (which is odd, since slander is usually spoken, while libel is written). The woman, Shellee Hale tried to claim that she was protected under New Jersey’s shield law, which allows a journalist to protect sources. In writing about this case originally, we pointed out that the judge in question clearly did not know much about the internet, and via his questions seemed positively perplexed that anyone would blog at all: “Why would a guy put all this stuff on a blog? Does he have nothing better to do?”
Thus, it should come as no surprise that the judge has now ruled that Hale is not protected by shield laws because she has “no connection to any legitimate news publication.” This is troubling for a variety of reasons. First, it leaves open entirely to interpretation what exactly is a “legitimate news publication.” The judge seems to think it only applies to old school media, saying: “Even though our courts have liberally construed the shield law, it clearly was not intended to apply to any person communicating to another person.” Sure, but that doesn’t mean that an individual who posts something in the pursuit of reporting isn’t media as well. It looks like Hale will appeal this decision, and hopefully other courts will recognize that you don’t have to work for a big media organization to be a reporter any more.