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Are Bloggers Journalists? Legal and Ethical Issues Abound.

"Bloggers should enjoy the same legal protection as journalists".

That's how Steve Rubel reads Eugene Volokh's blog and NYT Op-Ed piece. Steve interprets Volokh to say that bloggers should be extended the same 1st Amdendment protections as reporters (Jeff Jarvis interprets the Op-Ed the same way).

Steve and Jarvis are cheered by this. But with all respect to Steve (and Jarvis) , Volokh's real point is anything but happy news for bloggers:

"Yet when everyone is a journalist, a broad journalist's privilege becomes especially costly. The I.R.S. agent, for example, no longer needs to risk approaching many mainstream journalists, some of whom may turn him in. He can just ask a friend who has a blog and a political ax to grind. The friend can then post the leaked information and claim the journalist's privilege to prevent the agent from being identified. If the privilege is upheld, the friend and the agent will be safe - but our privacy will be lost."

I believe Volokh is saying that 1st Amendment protection would be too costly to extend to bloggers. While he believes that the law should not discriminate between bloggers and "traditional" journalists, his solution is not that protection should be extended to bloggers, but that protection should be further circumscribed for "journalists."

Not being a lawer, I never thought about this, but I am thinking now.

Allan Jenkins posted this at 18:40. Permalink |


"Roasting and Grinding"