A federal appeals court from the West appropriately ruled Jan. 17 that bloggers and other citizen journalists are entitled to protection from lawsuits in the same way that professional journalists are.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for a former Montana blogger who wrote controversial online postings; she contended that a court-appointed trustee in Oregon criminally mishandled a bankruptcy case. What’s important about the case is it extends First Amendment protections — traditionally extended to journalists sued for defamation — to people who blog and to other citizen journalists. The ruling applies to states covered by the 9th Circuit, such as Montana.
It’s a leap forward in extending the First Amendment, which protects expression and other cherished freedoms, to people who do not necessarily make a living working for a newspaper or a broadcast station.";