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. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2009 @ 10:58pm

    Re: Makes sense.

    I think it's important to give non - journalists anonymity just as well because non - journalists who work for a specific corporation or for a specific entity (ie: cops) may give us insight that journalists simply can't begin to give us and respond to comments in ways that journalists can't respond to and these insights are important for us. Journalists are generalists that can't begin to give us the same details of a specific situation that someone involved can give us and if something is of public concern it should be public knowledge and the person telling us should be given anonymity. There is really no good reason to destroy that anonymity unless the true purpose is to punish someone for holding a position that one disagrees with or for publicly telling people the truth about an issue.

    Take this example of where anonymity was removed

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090922/1611326286.shtml

    This person offered us insight into how patents were being abused, such insight is relevant to everyone because it is the government that grants patents on behalf of society and society has every right to know how these patents are being used.

    Another example is

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090917/0354056223.shtml

    The scare mongering you bring up are just a bunch of lies, mostly put out by the mainstream media, to scare the naive government full of conflicts of interest into giving mainstream media an unjust unlevel playing field so that anyone who discusses an issue that disagrees with the status quo can be fired from their employer and otherwise be punished. The whole purpose has nothing to do with damage caused by a pen.

    "Also, name 5 amateur journalist stories that NEED to protect their sources, then, answer me why THOSE SAME sources would not go to a major media outlet to break their story. "

    A: As has already been shown, mainstream media may censor certain information or they may discuss them with a certain bias while censoring certain sides of the issue. Another example of this is here

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-smith/monsanto-forced-fox-tv-to_b_186428.html

    Also, perhaps the person doesn't like mainstream media and prefers a specific blog because mainstream media turns everything into their intellectual property and the person reporting does not want what they report on to be intellectual property.

    "answer me why THOSE SAME sources would not go to a major media outlet to break their story. "

    You are basically admitting that your whole attempt is an attempt to give mainstream media an unlevel playing field that they DO NOT deserve. It has absolutely nothing to do with protecting anyone and you know it. You want everything that gets reported to be someones intellectual property and perhaps the people who turn in the information want an outlet that they can turn in their stories anonymously where the stories are no ones intellectual property. But of course that is not what you want, what you want, and the TRUE reason you want mainstream media to get the story and to have no competitors get the story, is exactly because you want mainstream media to hold the intellectual property rights over the story so then you can complain about how blogs parasite off of mainstream media when in fact it's mainstream media that has forced people not to be able to send stories to blogs to be released without intellectual property so that blogs can self sustain.

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