Skip to comments.Judge Says Blogs Not Legitimate News Source, No Shield Protections
Posted on 07/07/2009 6:49:41 AM PDT by Kieri
from the seems-to-leave-a-lot-of-leeway dept
Back in May we wrote about a lawsuit questioning whether or not a blogger could use journalism shield laws to protect a source who sent her info she used for a blog post. The company the info was about is suing her for slander (which is odd, since slander is usually spoken, while libel is written). The woman, Shellee Hale tried to claim that she was protected under New Jersey's shield law, which allows a journalist to protect sources. In writing about this case originally, we pointed out that the judge in question clearly did not know much about the internet, and via his questions seemed positively perplexed that anyone would blog at all: "Why would a guy put all this stuff on a blog? Does he have nothing better to do?"
Thus, it should come as no surprise that the judge has now ruled that Hale is not protected by shield laws because she has "no connection to any legitimate news publication." This is troubling for a variety of reasons. First, it leaves open entirely to interpretation what exactly is a "legitimate news publication." The judge seems to think it only applies to old school media, saying: "Even though our courts have liberally construed the shield law, it clearly was not intended to apply to any person communicating to another person." Sure, but that doesn't mean that an individual who posts something in the pursuit of reporting isn't media as well. It looks like Hale will appeal this decision, and hopefully other courts will recognize that you don't have to work for a big media organization to be a reporter any more.
This clearly cuts both ways. Huff-poop and Daily Cuz might not like being exposed to the light. It’s not like the light of “screwtiny” hasn’t been shined on every poster to the right of Mao.
So now judges have to define what is a news source and what is not a news source?
Does this judge even know of television yet?
“Legitimate” = “government approved.” This decision reeks of circular argument.
New Jersey: come for the taxes, stay for the corruption.
Got that, Shannyn Moore? You’ll be the first, so waddle your fat azz up, bend over and take one for your team.
It’s one thing to criticize Sarah Palin’s policies and decisions, but you’re asking for trouble when you perpetuate false rumors. The First Amendment doesn’t cover slander, so the game’s up for you and your ilk, b!tch.
I'm leery of this decision. Sure, this Sarah-harrassing punk deserves a hard time. But, an all purpose lowering of the suit bar can work big-time against all forms of commentary, including conservative commentary. I think we would be better served if Sarah found a way to go after some of the formal news organizations that spread the unfounded crap they spewed about her, or if there were punishments for the obviously frivolous ethics lawsuits.
Shannyn Moore is the lib with the radio show who is causing Sarah a bit of a headache in Alaska. She may not be “THE” blogger but she is a very visible antagonist to Sarah.
Simple solution: bloggers should join journalist associations.
Shield laws are crap anyway.
>Thus, it should come as no surprise that the judge has now ruled that Hale is not protected by shield laws because she has “no connection to any legitimate news publication.”
Now school papers don’t have protection via shield-laws, nor do self published papers.
Yep, the 1st amendment’s freedom of the press is clearly restricted to only those papers legitimized by the government. [/sarc]
Shield laws like this are very specific and probably unconstitutional, since they provide an enhanced level of freedom of speech protection to certain groups.
It will take some time for case law to determine where blogs fit into journalism and publication.
How is a blog any different than a magazine or newspaper? There have been self-published newspapers since revolutionary days.
Libel is still libel, whether it’s published in the New York Times or Bubba’s Blog. Quality journalism is the same, as well.
That should make for interesting legal case law.
Is there any justification for allowing journalists of any kind to conceal their sources from a court? I think not.
I see you have posted pictures from the other side of the obama family tree. Interesting pair.
>>>New Jersey: come for the taxes, stay for the corruption.
I may have to steal that :)
Is there any justification for forcing journalists or anyone else to reveal their sources or anything else they don’t care to reveal, ever? Not in a free country, but perhaps in Russia or modern America.
[A few of us remember when it was free—and it was wonderful!]