Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Shield Law Sponsor: Bloggers 'Probably Not' Considered Journos

This will really hurt in the long run if we can be prosecuted. Thoughts?


Shield Law Sponsor: Bloggers 'Probably Not' Considered Journos

By Mark Fitzgerald

Published: October 10, 2005 4:17 PM ET

INDIANAPOLIS Bloggers would "probably not" be considered journalists under the proposed federal shield law, the bill's co-sponsor, U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.), told the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) Monday afternoon.

Lugar emphasized, however, that debate is not yet closed on how to define a journalist under the proposed law.

"As to who is a reporter, this will be a subject of debate as this bill goes farther along," he said in response to a question from Washington Post Deputy Managing Editor Milton Coleman. "Are bloggers journalists or some of the commercial businesses that you here would probably not consider real journalists? Probably not, but how do you determine who will be included in this bill?"

According to the first draft of the Free Flow of Information Act of 2005, the "covered person" protected by the bill's terms includes "any entity that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, or other means and that publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical in print or electronic form; operates a radio or television station (or network of such stations), cable system, or satellite carrier, or channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier; or operates a news agency or wire service." The legislation also covers employees, contractors or other persons who "gathers, edits, photographs, records, prepares, or disseminates news or information for any such entity."

A key reason some journalists oppose the popular federal shield proposal is fear that giving Congress the power to define who is and isn't a journalist could lead effectively to the licensing of journalists.

In other remarks about the legislation at IAPA's 61st General Assembly, Lugar acknowledged that the legislation could amount to a "privilege" for reporters over other Americans.

"I think, very frankly, you can make a case that this is a special boon for reporters, and certainly for their role in freedom of the press," he said. "At the end of the day what we will come out with says there is something privileged about being a reporter, and being able to report on something without being thrown into jail."

Lugar said he was inspired to write the legislation by the jailing of New York Times reporter Judith Miller. "I've known Judy Miller for many years," he said, adding that they became close when she was reporting on his efforts to dismantle the former Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal.

The bill is necessary to help the United States regain its status as an "exemplar" of press freedom, Lugar told the IAPA. "Even as we are advocating for free press (abroad)... we'd better clean up our own act," Lugar said.



Blogger SkyeBlue2U said...

I have always been for the freedom to express someone's oppion, I just might not agree with it but everyone should have the same oppurnity.

11:41 AM  
Blogger Gretchen said...

Exactly. Freedom of the press is a must for any society that claims to be free. Otherwise, we might as well be living in Nazi Germany, the old Soviet Union or any other of those repressive societies.

2:06 PM  
Blogger gone said...

It's an interesting dilemma. As Bloggers increase their political scope of influence, should they be protected? There si a difference between print journalism and the blog realm, one of them being accountability (legal or otherwise).

I see most political blogging to be glorified op ed pieces. That isn't meant to belittle it by any means because, at the same time there is no legal accountability, there is freedom to express opinions, truth, and unfettered lies without the ramifications met in the print media.

So, what would accountability do for the sphere? Would it increase the quality of material? Decrease it? It would inevitably limit the freedom.

Persoinally, I'm inclined to say that it would most certainly send the spere into a decline and therefore the law should be kept at bay. People should have to decipher for themselves what is true, valid, or otherwise. When you impose standards, you essentially censor material. This is a final frontier, or sorts.

I say, "Let's keep it that way!"

9:55 AM  
Blogger SkyeBlue2U said...

I hope you watched Nightline ,there's this wonderful man on tonight he's 93. Studs Terkel. author of "And They All Sang".

2:55 AM  

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