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I'm ambivalent about a federal journalism shield law. There are legitimate journalistic efforts that should be protected, then there's Judith Miller. But if you're going to pass such a law, it's good to see that the definition of "journalist" has been expanded beyond those working for the corporate media.

The House has just passed the Free Flow of Information Act, also known as the federal shield law. The bill passed by a vote of 398-21, a margin that would easily override the veto which the White House has promised (pdf). The bill provides journalists with a qualified privilege as to sources and information, while at the same time, recognizing the need for effective law enforcement and robust national security. A blogger who regularly engages in journalistic activities – such as gathering and publishing news and information for dissemination to the public – and does so for a substantial portion of the person’s livelihood or for substantial financial gain would be covered by the shield as a journalist.

I'm not sure the ability to make "substantial financial gain" from a bloging efforts should dictate whether bloggers get these protections or not. This essentially means I'm protected, but diarists on the site are not. nor are the Firedoglake people (even though they had the best journalism out of the Libby trial), nor the AmericaBlog folks, nor many, many other bloggers. And what about citizen (volunteer) media? They're out of luck as well.

Recognizing that bloggers are worthy of these protections is a positive step forward as government struggles to make sense of the shifting media landscape. Now, this legislation needs to be tweaked in the Senate to strip out the condition that protected bloggers be raking in the cash. It's nonsensical and doesn't appear designed to eliminate legitimate bloggers, or to gain votes as compromise language, but as a clumsy attempt to prevent people from availing themselves of these shield protections by merely throwing up a quick fake blog.

That's a legitimate concern, and one that could be dealt with by changing "substantial financial gain" to something along the lines of "substantial publishing history". Or by giving authors protection only from suits arising from legitimate published materials.

There's unfortunately only a handful of us bloggers that make substantial revenue from our efforts. We shouldn't be treated any differently than the myriad others who are doing just as valuable work.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 08:35 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Is this their way of shutting (7+ / 0-)

    down citizen reporters?

    With the Internet, Republicans will never be in power again.  The Republicans and beltway martini guzzlers need to devise a plan to take information spreading across the Internet out of politics and reality.

    Is this their way?

    Republicans are not a national party anymore.

    by jalapeno on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 08:37:36 AM PDT

    •  Just route it through a gatekeeper. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shadan7, Ken in MN

      Josh Marshall, for example.

      Chances are you are mistaking the New York Times for a newspaper.

      by cskendrick on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 08:45:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I just envision these thugs being like (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KingOneEye

        the recording industry and going after everyone who posts a comment on a blog.

        Republicans are not a national party anymore.

        by jalapeno on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 08:48:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Do you know how much Josh makes? (0+ / 0-)

        If Firedoglake and AmericaBlog, who have very high traffic, wouldn't qualify, how do we know who does? And what's substantial?

        Furthermore, if I have a story I want to publish, that doesn't mean Josh would want to publish it. So either I publish at my own risk or the story dies?

        I want protection! And I would challenge this law if I found myself in need of the shield. It shouldn't matter how much money I make blogging. How much money did Jefferson or Madison make on their publishing activities? (I think the answer is $0.00).

        • Blog This: News Corpse
        • The Internet's Chronicle of Media Decay.

        by KingOneEye on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 09:25:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  yeah (0+ / 0-)

      It's all about money with these people. And then they wonder why the entire thing is hijacked by few media corporations.

      It's a giant cancer, self feeding circle.

      (Of course not that it matters, since most bloggers assume spying, intrusion attack, etc.)

      Use Tor and PGP on the net. (google it)

      by fugue on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 08:48:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "substantial publishing history" sounds correct (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, Shadan7, xanthippe2

    to me; but, we do live in a money-or-else society don't we?
    And, regarding Judith Miller: shouldn't we make it a practice to say Judith Miller and her editor[s]?
    She couldn't have gotten her crap into print without the approval of the editors.

  •  Would regular Joes... (0+ / 0-)

    be able to shield a source of information if they claimed that they posted an opinion or two on the web?

    So, you can wipe off the grin, I know where you've been. It's all been a pack of lies." -- Phil Collins

    by prophet on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 08:39:40 AM PDT

  •  I'm sure there are... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oxy Moron, kimoconnor

    ...plenty of "traditional" reporters that don't make substantial amounts of money.  Does that mean they're not covered?

    I think they should just stick with "[anyone] who regularly engages in journalistic activities."

  •  Judith Miller? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm sorry, I'm showing my ignorance here, but can anyone give me a Cliff's Notes refresher course on her? I'll look up Wikipedia in the meantime, but, ugh, wikipedia.

    Question Authority - Now, more than ever.

    by Zaq on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 08:40:53 AM PDT

    •  Judy was the lovely lady with (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Geotpf, Hannibal, brein, Zaq

      all the NYT stories on WMDs and mobile chemical labs and secret Iraqi nuclear facilities on the run up hysteria to the Iraqi war. In retrospect it was discovered her stuff was in error or else mendacious.
      She also sat in jail over contempt of court on the Plame case for refusing to identify who told her Plame was CIA.

  •  Substantial Financial Gain (8+ / 0-)

    There lies the rub. In other words, if they can't choose to jeopardize your livelihood, you don't have the right to uncover their dirt.

    George W. Bush is just like Forrest Gump. Except that Forrest Gump is honest and cares about other people.

    by easong on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 08:40:56 AM PDT

    •  There is a solution (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Geotpf

      I'm not sure the ability to make "substantial financial gain" from a bloging efforts should dictate whether bloggers get these protections or not. This essentially means I'm protected, but diarists on the site are not. nor are the Firedoglake people (even though they had the best journalism out of the Libby trial), nor the AmericaBlog folks, nor many, many other bloggers. And what about citizen (volunteer) media? They're out of luck as well.

      Just put us all on payroll, Kos!

    •  Future gain (0+ / 0-)

      This might include the potential of future financial gain.  Thus, a blogger could argue that they are beginning a career or website from which they expect to produce substantial financial gain in the future.

      "This machine kills fascists"--words on Woody Guthrie's guitar

      by Old Left Good Left on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 10:22:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is a good suggestion (0+ / 0-)

        I have a news blog that I have had up a few months, covering planning and development news mostly, in my suburban community. I'm a professional freelance journalist and I am running the blog like a newspaper. I hope to make money off of it someday but that will take time. If I get a legitimate story from an anonymous source then I should be protected.

        The internet, and blogs in particular, are the 21st century equivalent of the small printing press. We are "real" journalists and should be treated that way.

        Fear is the mind-killer. Be not afraid.

        by Lisa in Bama on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 10:33:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good luck (0+ / 0-)

          If your budget allows it and you haven't already, you might want to consider consulting with a tax lawyer or accountant to make sure that your start-up business will not be deemed to be a hobby by the IRS.  The IRS and courts apply a multifactor test to determine if an activity is being pursued for profit. It may be helpful to have your activity properly aligned from the start since it can affect the deductability of losses from the activity.

          "This machine kills fascists"--words on Woody Guthrie's guitar

          by Old Left Good Left on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 11:16:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Freedom of the Press, not the Presser (11+ / 0-)

    Anyone who publishes anything is a "journalist". What they publish, and what they don't, should be protected, regardless of how corporate is their employer, or even how (in)frequently they publish. So long as they don't violate journalism ethics laws, like slander/libel (which should remove protections for at least some anonymous sourcing), they should have freedom of the press.

    Note that the Constitution doesn't say "freedom to be a journalist", but "freedom of the press". Anyone exercising that freedom, however intermittently, should have that freedom protected. No more, and no less.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 08:41:39 AM PDT

  •  Another veto? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shadan7, Ken in MN, Zaq

    Why does Bush want to veto this when it has such strong Congressional support?

    Is he just being contrary as usual?

  •  So long as Bill in Portland Maine is covered (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    brillig, xanthippe2, Ken in MN

    I'm good. :)

    Chances are you are mistaking the New York Times for a newspaper.

    by cskendrick on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 08:43:59 AM PDT

  •  Well Kos (0+ / 0-)

    you sold out a long time ago so everyone knew you would be protected.  Snark Snark.

    I'm not sure the ability to make "substantial financial gain" from a bloging efforts should dictate whether bloggers get these protections or not.

    "Sometimes I wish I could change my nickname" Me

    by givemhellHarryR on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 08:44:15 AM PDT

  •  Means-testing a social act? (5+ / 0-)

    This is so wrong-headed it's unbelievable (but I guess not surprising). Journalism is a social act first, a vocation second. Are the people risking their very lives to get out information about what's happening in Burma not engaged in journalism? Wasn't S. R. Sidarth's video of George Allen calling him "macaca" an act of journalism? He may not have set out on a news gathering mission, but the news sure came from his act.

    I doubt someone like Amy Goodman sits on top of a huge media empire, but she does a hell of a lot better job of journalism than any of the chattering DC class.

    Are you shaking or biting the invisible hand?

    by puppethead on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 08:49:35 AM PDT

    •  Not so surprising... (0+ / 0-)

      Nancy has all sorts of means tests:

      "Look," she said, the chicken breast on her plate untouched. "I had, for five months, people sitting outside my home, going into my garden in San Francisco, angering neighbors, hanging their clothes from trees, building all kinds of things -- Buddhas? I don't know what they were -- couches, sofas, chairs, permanent living facilities on my front sidewalk."

      Unsmilingly, she continued: "If they were poor and they were sleeping on my sidewalk, they would be arrested for loitering, but because they have 'Impeach Bush' across their chest, it's the First Amendment."


      The fact is that the average man's love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth. - H.L. Mencken

      by two roads on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 09:23:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I object to any reporter shield law. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brooke In Seattle, boofdah, two roads

    All it does is encourage people to lie through the press.  We already have problems with journalists concealing fraudulent sources, this would make the problems ten times worse.

  •  The shield act does not protect bloggers (0+ / 0-)

    that are just the normal day to day blogger who does it to stay involved, not make money. I have never made a dime blogging, so I would not be covered by this law and neither would most of us. Kos and the frontpagers would be covered, but not most of us.

    -8.63 -7.28 We all have to be concerned about terrorism, but you will never end terrorism by terrorizing others.~Martin Luther King III

    by OneCrankyDom on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 08:54:40 AM PDT

    •  Protection from what? (0+ / 0-)

      Like I comment below, the reason to shield a source is what's under discussion. Hey, I like to play Ace Reporter whenever I can, but it's not like I have a bunch of sources who feed me insider information and these relationships allow me to earn a living.

      Only a very few bloggers I know about, maybe the guy over at Capitol Hill Blue, actually speak with primary sources "on the record" as it were. Just about everybody else does punditry. If the Homeland Security people want to ask me where I got a particular metaphor from, I'll tell 'em.

      Anyway, since an unpaid blogger isn't earning a living from the activity, requesting that person to reveal a source so that an investigation can proceed doesn't imperil that person's ability to work. Ergo, the unpaid blogger has no particular obligation to obstruct an investigation into a crime. I'm sure that's how they're reasoning here.

      Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

      by The Raven on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 10:27:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •   I have been known to call sources (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Raven

        I also have some sources of my own that I do use when writing about certain issues.I also am contacted by sources that have read my writing. Those sources at times ask me not to name them, but not always. Taking that into account, and that there are more than a few others here that do the same, I find your logic flawed. Take the case of the blogger who taped police violence and refuse to turn over the video, and was jailed. He would not be covered, and should be since his was a act of journalism/blogging.

        -8.63 -7.28 We all have to be concerned about terrorism, but you will never end terrorism by terrorizing others.~Martin Luther King III

        by OneCrankyDom on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 12:05:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The video blogger (0+ / 0-)

          Oh yes - I followed the SF video blogger story with great interest. Perhaps the problem is that the people drafting the bill are thinking like I am, and they really need to hear from people like you.

          At some point, I would imagine a judge is going to have to weigh a blogger's circumstances to see whether protection is warranted. But, to push on a bit, OK, so you call people, stuff like that, very reporterish. Now, if this isn't your paid job, but rather an avocation of some sort, and you are forced to reveal your sources, then maybe some people who've talked with you in the past are now disinclined to do so.

          If this has zero effect on your employment, then in essence they've just messed up your hobby. Of course, your readers might be disconvenienced, but the law is going to have a very hard time pursuing investigations of wrongdoing when a person who can point them in the right direction refuses, and bases that refusal on the grounds that her or she wrote about it on their blog and are claiming journalistic privilege.

          It's on a par with my taking my neighbor's temperature, and then claiming our discussions are privileged via a doctor/patient relationship. Because bloggers span a continuum, we're talking about where the cutoff is for this - but the continuum isn't linear - it's more like overlapping Venn diagram circles. I don't envy the people who are trying to sort this out.

          Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

          by The Raven on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 01:18:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  overly simplistic (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            The Raven

            simplistic when you refer to a passion for my country as a hobby. You imply I would not use the same good judgement and commonsense that any professional would when deciding if something should be kept "off the record". I don't believe anyone grants people the priviledge to remain unknown if they tell some one about a hideous plot or some such. My First Amend Right should be coupled with this new Statute when blogging a News item, but not if I'm crying fire in a crowded theater. The same should be said for a reporter. The problem is who decides when it is cry of wolf, or a real cry of danger about the wolf/bush ?

            -8.63 -7.28 We all have to be concerned about terrorism, but you will never end terrorism by terrorizing others.~Martin Luther King III

            by OneCrankyDom on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 02:58:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I was afraid of that (0+ / 0-)

              Because I most certainly did not want to impugn the force of your efforts. If you're like me, then you're contributing dollars, working on GOTV efforts, and this is a part of your activity. I was only trying to describe the legal framework and in this we are not operating under anything at all related to logic or common sense.

              That said, the title of "journalist" should be reserved for the professional and not subject to claim from any clown who can upload a document. I think judges can intervene and clarify the tough cases.

              Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

              by The Raven on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 07:04:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  It's the public interest (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Raven

        that is protected, not the livelihood of the blogger.  The bill attempts to define journalists so that the privilege is limited to those who actually can be counted on to publish (and thus further the public interest end of things).  At the same time, the bill limits the privilege so that just having a blog will not allow a person to invoke the privilege.

        What has to be kept in mind is that there is a necessary balancing of rights and responsibilities.  If anyone could invoke a journalist's privilege, a defendant's rights could be unduly burdened, or the government's responsibilities to investigate crime would be unduly burdened.

        "This machine kills fascists"--words on Woody Guthrie's guitar

        by Old Left Good Left on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 03:54:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The kicker would seem to be substantial portion (0+ / 0-)

    of income.  The way that has been going the past few years, I could sell tracts on street corners and still qualify. They may want to fine tune things a bit more, such as they do when designating hobby status in other professions.

  •  It should be based on whether the source (0+ / 0-)

    ...provided the information for someone to write an article/book (whether or not the writer has a substantial publishing history.)

  •  Does this law pass the "Thomas Paine test" (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egypt Steve, brein, Zaq, Bouldergeist

    Look at it this way, if Thomas Paine were a blogger, would this law protect him from prosecution? Other than that, requiring people to have to earn money in order to gain protection is ludicrous.  I suspect that courts will feel the same way.  

    Don't be so afraid of dying that you forget to live.

    by LionelEHutz on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 09:07:08 AM PDT

    •  I suspect that this is painfully unconstitutional (0+ / 0-)

      The freedom of the press doesn't merely encompass the paid media, and never has.  What we need are a bunch of old-line originalist judges to interpret it ... uh, isn't that what we have on the Court?

      I'm not sure that is necessarily a good thing.

  •  Doesn't Aravosis' majority income come from (0+ / 0-)

    Americablog?

    And if so, doesn't this cover him?

  •  Before I even saw the source... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xanthippe2, brein


    The bill provides journalists with a qualified privilege as to sources and information, while at the same time, recognizing the need for effective law enforcement and robust national security.


    Before I even saw the source of this quote I read it three times, and thought to myself: Pelosi-speak.

    And personally, I see no need for a change in the law. But here's the kicker -- as part of the description of what the law will accomplish is this:

    Over the last few years, more than 40 reporters have been subpoenaed for the identities of confidential sources in nearly a dozen cases, with some actually going to jail.  New York Times reporter Judith Miller was imprisoned from July to September last year for contempt of court for failing to comply with a court order to identify her source in stories that she wrote for the Times regarding the disclosure of the identity of former Central Intelligence Agency covert agent Valerie Plame Wilson. (emphasis in original)


    Since the paragraph is inserted with no explanatory language other than the paragraph itself, it must speak for itself:

    1. 'Have been subpoenaed' does not equal 'compelled to testify'.

    1. Judith Miller was not jailed for refusing to identify sources in stories that she wrote. Miller only gathered information without writing about it. She was subpoenaed specifically regarding a meeting with an 'unnamed government official' (later to be revealed as Scooter Libby) two days after Joe Wilson wrote his column.

    1. The subpoena wasn't because of 'the disclosure of the identity of former Central Intelligence Agency covert agent Valerie Plame Wilson'. It was because of the disclosure of an active covert agent's identity, a violation of federal law.

    Again, this is from the Speaker's own page, and the only explanation of why any change in the law is needed.

    And if they can't even get the details straight on this...

    The fact is that the average man's love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth. - H.L. Mencken

    by two roads on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 09:16:52 AM PDT

  •  This shows contempt for those of us (0+ / 0-)

    who aren't getting paid to blog.  What an attitude!  A different set of rules for those who earn money....  Sounds too familiar.  Makes me want to blog my little heart out:-(  

  •  How would one define (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    trinite

    "substantial publishing history"?

    What if I break a major story, accurate in every way, in my very first blog post? What if I break that major story and never blog again? Am I not to be protected?

    What does a criteria of "substantial publishing history" mean for those who seek to publish anonymously?

    And what exactly would constitute "substantial"? If a newspaper hired me, I would be protected on my very first day of work, even if I was hired with no publishing history at all. Bloggers, too, should be protected from the outset, regardless of their income or publishing history.

    I think the problem here is that we are trying to limit these protections to "journalists". In doing so, we are forcing ourselves to define exactly what a "journalist" is. But this is the wrong approach entirely. We need to rid ourselves of the idea that only "journalists" require these kinds of protections. In a world where anyone can communicate legitimate news, even if they've never done so before, we are all potential "journalists".

    Extend the protection to everyone.

  •  substantial portion of the person’s liveli (0+ / 0-)

    You concentrate on "substantial financial gain" but you ignore the "or" portion - "substantial portion of the person’s livelihood." Technically speaking, "livelihood" does refer to finances as well, but that doesn't make sense, since it contradicts the second part of the "or," so one can only assume that it really means "a substantial portion of the person's life." Which means that those of us who put in many hours on the "job," even for free, are covered.

    The issue you don't address is "gathering and publishing news and information for dissemination to the public." Note that it doesn't say "gathering OR publishing," but AND. This would imply that only reporters are protected, while "mere" commentators or analysts are not. Forget bloggers, I wonder if this applies to corporate journalists as well, many of whom do not "gather and publish" news.

    Eli Stephens
    Left I on the News

    Oct. 27 across the country! Be there! Stop the war!

    by elishastephens on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 09:46:04 AM PDT

  •  One step at a time? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    looking italian

    I doubt the vote would have been so lopsided if this protection was expanded to include anyone with a computer and more than 3 diaries.  Also, how does/will the court interpret "substantial" or "legitimate published"?  At least now the argument will be over objective evidence such as money and there is an opportunity to argue.  
    The next step, of course, is to eliminate the type of people in power who abuse the truth to protect their own greedy selfish interests.  Then there would be little need for these laws.

    Irrationally held truths are more harmful than reasoned errors. -- Thomas H. Huxley

    by Memory Corrupted on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 09:49:03 AM PDT

  •  Letters to the editor. (0+ / 0-)

    Are letters to the editor protected?  Wouldn't that be something like what bloggers do?  Bloggers have gotten a lot of flack, not only from Republicans, but also from Democrats.  They have also been trashed by the media and press.  We all know about Joe Klein and his arch enemy, Vinny from the Bronx.  The clique that likes to control the flow of informatiion doesn't like it when thousands of people have access to a huge audience, especially when they don't have to pray that their letter will be published or that they'll have to toe the company line.  This might be the beginning of an attempt to shut up and control a lot of people and what they say.  

  •  What happened to free speech? (0+ / 0-)

    Shouldn't it be mentioned somewhere in this legislation?

  •  Sources and free speech. (0+ / 0-)

     I guess free speech is not an issue if this bill is only involved in protection of sources when a law has been broken.

  •  Isn't substantial a relative term? (0+ / 0-)

    This won't survivie a court review.  Substantial is too vague.

    Also, this is a clear attemp to shut up citizen bloggers.

    DISCLOSURE: I am a homemaker, political consultant and I will never work for Republicans. Ever.

    by Casey Morris on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 10:19:09 AM PDT

  •  Why "substantial financial gain" matters (0+ / 0-)

    I think the legislation isn't intended to set up special categories of bloggers per se (namely, paid vs unpaid). Rather, the idea is to offer legal protection to bloggers who rely on their blogging as a source of livelihood.

    If the government forces a reporter or paid blogger to reveal sources, then that person's ability to earn a living is imperiled. The government must weigh the importance of pursuing an investigation against the damage it might inflict on a lawful citizen carrying out the routine activities of his or her employment.

    The unpaid blogger doesn't have that standing.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 10:20:02 AM PDT

    •  Otherwise, everyone with a web page never talks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Raven

        I think they did it that way or no one in the country would ever have to testify. Anyone with a web blog or maybe even just a web page could claim they were a journalist.

        You can't have a judge making ad hoc decisions as to which pages and blogs are exempt. i.e. Which people are real journalists.

        No one would ever be able to interview any witnesses who didn't want to cooperate. They'd say my web page is proof I'm a reporter so I don't have to talk.

        I don't agree that money should be the standard, but there has to be one. So many people publish on the web these days.  It would exempt far too many people for illegitimate reasons to include everyone who ever wrote one blog.

      •  Exactly so (0+ / 0-)

        Right on all counts. Well, except we might talk about this a bit:

        You can't have a judge making ad hoc decisions as to which pages and blogs are exempt. i.e. Which people are real journalists.

        In a discussion further down I'm having with CrankyDom, I actually introduce the idea of a judge having to make the call on an ad hoc basis. It might have to be that way in some cases.

        Money offers a nice linear progression from amateur to professional, so I can see how they're looking to write the bill and extend protection to professionals. Makes perfect sense. But we all know plenty of bloggers who, while unpaid, are outworking and outwriting many so-called pros like (cough) Joe Klein or (laugh) Jonah Goldberg.

        We know many bloggers who uncover stories or discover connections or present original research that is on a par with anything in the standard media. So if a blogger who works unpaid wishes to appeal to a judge that a shield is being claimed, then the judge would have to use some sort of matrix  to ferret out whether this person's claim is valid.

        So I'm seeing this as being a law that protects professionals, and might, on a case-by-case basis, be applied to amateurs, but only in exceptional cases. Sadly, No! and the Rude Pundit probably wouldn't qualify. Digby would.  

        Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

        by The Raven on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 01:28:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  FYI (0+ / 0-)

    The Senate version has a friendlier definition:

    (2) COVERED PERSON- The term `covered person' means a person who is engaged in journalism and includes a supervisor, employer, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of such person. ...

    (5) JOURNALISM- The term `journalism' means the regular gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public.

    I like those qualifiers better.

  •  If they can't figure out... (0+ / 0-)

    ...who the journalists are, then what are they doing running our country?

    Seriously, since when did being a journalist mean that journalism had to be your primary source of income?!?

    ...and they wonder why our opinion of them is so low.

  •  Penalizing volunteerism (0+ / 0-)

    Why does blogging for free make your effort less worthy of protection? That's like saying it's OK to throw volunteers in jail after they clean up garbage from the neighborhood playground.

  •  Bloggers have to be included. Period. (0+ / 0-)

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    If Congress defines "the press" for the purpose of granting privileges to some but not others, then they are, ipso facto, abridging the "freedom of the press" for those not favored.  They can't do that.  Everyone has to be included in a shield law, or it's unconstitutional. So say I.

    Bush tortures. Bush lies.

    by Egypt Steve on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 10:26:01 AM PDT

  •  So now what does Bush do? (0+ / 0-)

    He may not want any overrides on his record.  They'll be proof that the country abandoned him as his term went on.

    Maybe he'll sign it (with appropriately bullshit "signing statement"), in a fit of RealPolitik.

  •  What does the Washington Times... (0+ / 0-)

    ...think about this "substantial financial gain" stuff?

    Considering that Sun Myung Moon has blown a couple billion dollars (or more) on the newspaper, are Washington Times reporters not covered?

    ___
    There's a central place to post and view YearlyKos 2007 photos and videos

    by snorfbat on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 10:44:15 AM PDT

  •  Who exactly... (0+ / 0-)
    ... is being sheilded here?  The real people being protected are the people leaking (hence the lopsided vote).

    I think Atrios is on to something making this about whistle-blowing and not about leaking to 'journalists'.  Protecting whistleblowers is the transparent solution, not enhancing the ability to keep secrets.

    "If stupidity got us into this mess, why can't stupidity get us out of it?" - Will Rogers

    by jhe on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 10:53:35 AM PDT

  •  It's a step in the right direction (0+ / 0-)

    I think shield laws are in order, but they need to be carefully defined.

    I also think that the MSM and government is finally beginning to understand the importance of citizen journalism. As Kos mentioned, Firedoglake had the best reporting on the Libby case. The MSM came to them for information!

    Considering they have a veto proof majority, why didn't they go farther? Pressure from the big media companies?

    01-20-09: THE END OF AN ERROR

    by kimoconnor on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 11:04:34 AM PDT

    •  PS: It is up to journalists themselves (0+ / 0-)

      to end this practice of allowing nearly all administration officials to discuss (leak) policy without being identified.

      People like Judith Miller did this, and look where that got us. I hate her case being part of the shield law discussion.

      Journalists, including bloggers, need to remember the basics of good journalism. It seems to me many have lost this in lieu of getting cozy with officials.

      Shame on them.

      01-20-09: THE END OF AN ERROR

      by kimoconnor on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 11:09:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just to post the obvious. (0+ / 0-)

    The journalists need a guild. The lawyers have the ABA, the doctors have the AMA, and in both professions, you are forbidden by law from practicing that profession unless you belong to the appropriate guild.

    If there are to be journalist shield laws (or journalist passes to government functions, etc...) they should be absolutely and totally restricted to members of the guild. Make membership in the guild fairly easy (maybe $50/year dues or something), and there you go.

    Have a concept of a "news organization" that employs journalists to produce "news", and then FCC strictures can start to say something about the "news" content that is required on the public airwaves, etc...

    The key thing is this. Everything published by "the press" must be signed off by a "journalist", otherwise it's an "advertisement" or possibly "entertainment" and given only the most minimal protections of law. Of course, should a journalist ever lend his by-line to an article that turns out to be in any significant way untrue, he can be un-journaled, just as a lawyer would be disbarred or a doctor would have his license revoked.

    There you go, problem solved. Do away with the "truthiness" and bring back truth, at the same time you could protect real journalists and dispose of the Judith Millers of the world.

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