March 10, 2008

The "problem with journalist 'shield' laws is that journalism isn't a profession; it's an activity, one now engaged in by many."

Glenn Reynolds writes (in his Glenn Harlan Reynolds persona):
Efforts to limit the privilege to "professional" journalists... quickly transform into a sort of guild or licensing system for the press — ironically, something that the First Amendment clearly prohibits.

Complying with subpoenas might make journalists' lives more difficult, but lots of industries are burdened by having to comply with the law.

Journalists usually aren't terribly sympathetic to those industries' complaints. We should be no more sympathetic to reporters' special pleading.


rhhardin said...

Wasn't Harlan part of Dewey Balantine, before there was Dewey?

I suspect nepotism in his first job.

Original Mike said...

Journalists get special treatment. It's in the Constitution. Just ask them. ;-)

Chip Ahoy said...

I take the spirit of the journalist protection laws to be intended to protect whistle blowers, especially government whistle blowers. But now, in the case of the Yale incident blogged about earlier, defenders are trying to use it to protect any libelous pencil-neck little pixie-prick, strike that, any anonymous commenter who avers So-and-so has genital herpes.

Bruce Hayden said...

I can see why "professional journalists" would want such. I am reminded of Fitz and Plame investigation.

But the reality it seems any more is that a lot of the real news and real whistle blowing is first coming out of the Blogosphere (or, similar, given that Drudge is not really a blogger).

So, how do you define a professional journalist? Does Matt Drudge count? Think back over the years, and compare the number of important scoops he has had, ranging from Monica Lewisnksy through Prince Harry in Afghanistan, and compare that with almost any "professional" journalist around. And also look at his readership - far more than most, if not all, papers.

But if Drudge is in, who else would be considered "professional"? Anyone who has advertising on their site?

Or, is this just a way of protecting the "old" media? And giving them an unfair advantage?

Revenant said...

Or, is this just a way of protecting the "old" media? And giving them an unfair advantage?