Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"Court Says Bloggers are Journalists Too"

"Freedom of the Press has always, of course, applied to traditional journalists. If someone accuses a journalist in say, The Washington Post, or the New York Times, or even a small town newspaper of defamation, and the issue is of public concern, the plaintiffs have to prove that there was negligence or worse in order to win damages. Essentially a plaintiff would have to prove that a journalist wrote their story without properly checking out their sources, or some other negligent behavior. If they cannot prove that a reporter didn’t do their due diligence, they cannot be found guilty. This was established by a 1974 Supreme Court case, Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc.

For years, this 1974 case sufficed as protecting journalists, because official media was really the only kind of media that existed. There was radio, newspapers, and TV, and all of those were mostly composed of people who had journalistic training and were part of a larger company. But with the advent of the internet, everyone can have a blog. In fact, if I so decided, I could go get a free WordPress blog right now and start writing just a few minutes later. And out of that prevalence of individual-driven media came the question: does this freedom of the press also apply to the informal and individual press?"

"Last week, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the same standards that apply to journalists in print media also apply to bloggers and anyone else. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press member Gregg Leslie said, “it’s not a special right to the news media. So it’s a good thing for bloggers and citizen journalists and others.”