Senate Says Amateur Journalists Don't Deserve Shield Protection

from the and-why-not? dept

Congress has been working on a federal "shield" law that that allows journalists to protect their sources. This is an important concept, and many states already have local laws on that front. Unfortunately, as the Senate was working on its version of the bill, it's apparently decided that the law should only apply to professional journalists who make their living that way. If you happen to just write a blog post that exposes some sort of wrong, you'll have no shield protections. Or if you write for a participatory media site and blow a whistle, again, you'll have no shield protection for your sources. While not all that surprising (do you really think our Senators understand the value of participatory journalism), it's still disappointing.

Filed Under: amateur, journalists, professional, senate, shield law


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  1. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 24 Sep 2009 @ 12:17pm

    Clarify?

    "it's apparently decided that the law should only apply to professional journalists who make their living that way."

    Really? How does one define what is "making a living"?

    For instance, what if the person is a relatively new journalist with no other source of income but for a small newspaper paying him/her, and that income amounts to $10k per year? Is that really "making a living"?

    Or how about the owner of a major news website that makes a significant amount of money in their endeavors, but that owner makes MORE money from other sources (say, a financial reporter who is also a financial consultant)? He isn't making his living from being a journalist, though he's making a great deal of money doing it.

    Or is it just as simple as anyone making money from their journalism is protected? In which case you just pay your blog journalists a penny per piece and call it a day.

    When are people going to realize that laws need to be a combination of simple and clearly defined, or they don't work?

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