Bloggers after the Shield: Defining Journalism in Privilege Law
Journal of Media Law & Ethics, Vol. 1, pp. 186-216, 2010
31 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2011
Date Written: August 15, 2011
Josh Wolf claims to be the longest jailed journalist in American history after courts rejected his journalist’s privilege claims and he spent 226 days in prison. But was the blogger really a journalist entitled to invoke privilege protections? Academics, journalists, lawyers, judges and lawmakers have struggled to articulate legal definitions of journalism as bloggers increasingly seek newsgathering protections. This article evaluates controversies in state statutory interpretation, federal shield law proposals and federal common-law development. The article argues that the analytical evolution in federal and state case law supports expanding privilege protection to bloggers whose purposes, processes and products are similar to professional journalists’ historical practices and values.
Keywords: journalist’s privilege, newsgathering, bloggers, journalism
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