Should Bloggers Be Afforded The Same Rights Granted To Journalists?

from the lawsuits-galore... dept

Paul Alan Levy writes "Together with the ACLU of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Center for Freedom of Expression, we have intervened in a case pending in Buckingham County, Virginia in which a plaintiff in a defamation case retaliated against a blogger who covered his defamation suit in less than flattering terms by sending a highly invasive subpoena that demands production of the blogger's communications with his sources, IP numbers of all who posted on his web site or even READ the web site. There have been only a handful of cases in which courts have addressed whether bloggers should be treated as journalists for the purpose of considering the reporters' privilege. We are also arguing that, in addition to protecting the commenters on the blog for the reasons usually argued -- protecting their right of anonymous speech -- posters on a journalist's blog should be treated as "sources" whose disclosure violates the journalist's own rights."

We've been seeing a lot of these types of cases lately. It would be good to get some more definitive rulings that establish both the rights of those who blog, as well as those who comment anonymously.

Filed Under: bloggers, journalists, lawsuits, sources

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  1. identicon
    JTiger, 11 Mar 2009 @ 2:50pm

    What is a journalist and why is it different than a blogger

    A journalist is someone that delivers news - generally for the public good - in an independent, accurate, truthful and objective manner. If you want to complicate that, then you would ask, "What is news?" To which a journalist would reply, something that happened that people want to or would want to know about.

    A blogger is, well, anyone that has an internet connection and wants to write about something or bring attention to something by linking to it. What do their posts consist of? More often than not, it is something that interests them, not necessarily the public good - that can mesh sometimes though.

    So, I would describe the difference between a blogger and journalist not only in their content but in their intent. A blog post is a reflection of what the blogger finds interesting. A piece of journalism is a reflection of what the journalist feels is information that will benefit the public good.

    To me, the tricky part is when the two interests overlap. Take Jim Foti's Roadguy blog, for example. He finds traffic stuff and happenings interesting but the content of his blog also benefits the public good. The kicker here, of course, is that Jim Foti is Minneapolis Star-Tribune journalist.

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