Is this Definition ‘Journalist’ Enough For Ya?
Defining who is and isn’t a journalist is now under the purview of the federal government thanks to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), working with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). Last week they worked to get legislation through the Judiciary Committee that would determine who is and isn’t qualified to receive protection under a federal press “shield” law as reported by Donna Cassata with the Associated Press.
Now as Michael McGough points out in his editorial in the Los Angeles Times, the government has often had to define who is and isn’t a journalist for different pieces of legislation. What makes this bill significant is that federal protections for journalists would not be available to people who don’t fit the description. For example, WikiLeaks would not be covered under this definition – which has liberals up in arms about it. What bothers me is that bloggers who aren’t working full time don’t receive that protection either. I like this site http://www.vardenafil20mg.me/.
I’ve written in the past that as an organization we tend to straddle a fine line between journalist and activist, but we do try to hold our writers to a set of standards similar to what you’d find at any journalism organization. We make mistakes, we miss things, but no more often nor no more significantly than some of the “live reporting” surrounding recent tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombing and the Navy Yard shooting.
I wrote yesterday about the challenge of preserving the public interest in the current political climate. This legislation just underscores the frustration felt by bloggers who do try to do a good job and do hold themselves to a higher standard on both sides of the partisan divide. I think if we, Paul Ogden, Doug Mason or Marcia Oddi came across documents they determine should be published because they are in the public interest, we should be treated no differently by our government than Brian Howey or Matthew Tully.
Of course the real danger of the legislation is that once you’re offered anything from the federal government, there are often strings attached. Given our diminishing understanding of The Constitution and the interest of Supreme Court justices to rewrite what protections we’re entitled to receive under that document. Who is to say that in order to continue to receive protection you not only have to reach a certain standing but your reporting needs to reflect a certain perspective?
We at Hoosier Access are proud to be “just a blogger” and not necessarily be considered journalists by the general public, but we certainly don’t like the idea of Congress defining journalists in such a manner that some receive protections for sharing information in the public interest while others who are motivated by the exact same impulse are treated differently.