Senate's Latest Shield Law Brings Back Protection For Participatory Journalists

from the good-news dept

It looks like the Senate has pushed back on the restrictions that the White House wanted on a journalism shield law. Not only does the new Senate version greatly limit the circumstances under which the White House could get around the law, it also goes back to covering amateur/freelance/citizen/participatory journalists as well. The White House had wanted the right to basically claim which stories wouldn’t count for shield law protection (meaning journalists would need to give up their sources). But the “compromise” bill from the Senate will only allow this in cases where the government can show (not just say) that the information is needed to prevent terrorism or substantial harm to national security. That seems a lot more reasonable. Of course, this is only the Senate version and the bill very well might change before it gets approved, but at least it’s good to see that it doesn’t just create a special class of “professional journalists.”

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Comments on “Senate's Latest Shield Law Brings Back Protection For Participatory Journalists”

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Andrew F (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think that’s the wrong question. It’s not WHO is a journalist but WHAT is journalism — i.e. the Internet allows anyone to be engaged in a journalism, but not everything that “journalists” do counts as journalism.

As a general rule, I think that publishing information that better informs the public about what the government should count as protected journalism — and then we haggle over the exceptions from there.

The Freedom of Information Act, which deals with the reverse scenario of when the government has to disclose, is set up in this way, and while it doesn’t fit perfectly, it’s a starting point.

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