Should Online Newspaper's Comments Be Protected By Journalism Shield Laws?
from the are-they-sources? dept
Having just discussed whether or not journalism shield laws should apply to random bloggers, it’s worth noting an interesting case going on in Indiana, where the key question is whether or not such a law applies to comments on a newspaper website. The paper, the Indianapolis Star, is arguing that Indiana’s shield law protects anonymous commenters in the same way that it protects sources. After all, anonymous commenters can be sources. Of course, it may come down to the specific language in Indiana’s shield law. A more interesting question is should such laws protect anonymous commenters? I’d argue that the First Amendment should, generally speaking, protect most anonymity, so I’m not sure a specific shield law provides much more that’s useful beyond that. However, if you were definitely applying such shield laws to comments, perhaps it should just be limited to cases or individuals who actually are acting as sources (i.e., providing news) in the comments.