"JOURNALIST OR BLOGGER: PROTECTED UNDER THE FIRST AMENDMENT OR NOT"
by Thomas Halek
"The opinions of the courts decide whether a blogger is a journalist and afforded the rights provided under the First Amendment.
Dr. Anthony Curtis, Mass Communication Dept., University of North Carolina at Pembroke, in an article titled What is Journalism said, “Journalism is the practice of investigating and reporting events, issues and trends to the mass audiences of print, broadcast and online media such as newspapers, magazines and books, radio and television stations and networks, and blogs and social and mobile media.”
How the courts have ruled on whether a blogger is a journalist and protected by the First Amendment has varied. In a paper titled, The Future of Online Legal Journalism, written by Christopher J. Davey, the Director of Public Information for the Supreme Court of Ohio, said, “The court speaks only through their opinions.” In the paper, Davey describes how the legal system’s view of on-line journalism has grown and changed since 1964 and the consequences because of it.
OBSIDIAN FINANCE GROUP v. CRYSTAL COX
On Mashable.com a headline reads, “Judge Hits Blogger With $2.5 Million Charge for Not Being a Journalist.” The case is OBSIDIAN FINANCE GROUP v. CRYSTAL COX. In The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer published an article U.S. Court: Bloggers Are Journalists. In the article, Meyer describes the case and the United States Court of Appeals For the Ninth Circuit ruling.
The Court of Appeal’s ruling overturned the District Court’s ruling and declared that Cox was a journalist and therefore protected by the freedom of speech laws and the First Amendment.
EMERITUS PROFESSOR JAMES PIELEMEIER INTERVIEW
Emeritus Professor James Pielemeier, a retired law professor from Hamline University, in an interview said, “It did seem to me that there was a trend towards treating bloggers like journalists in some areas, such as statutory Reporter’s Privileges (e.g. about confidential sources), at least if the statutory language arguably permitted such a result.” Pielemeier also said, “In general, there seemed to be a trend towards treating bloggers like journalists in other areas of first amendment law.”
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