28 February 2009

Are Bloggers Journalists?

In truth - I have always thought the answer was NO!

However the definition is a hard one to nail down. Many journalists are not full time, many are not classically trained. Most have good ethics.

But as we all know the law can be an ass in trying to define things.

So it is with much interest that I see that the US Congress has decided to take the matter into its own hands. And thanks to the folks at WebProNews for showing us this little one.

It seems that the two versions of the Bill set out to achieve the same goal - defining what is a journalist and then seeking to protect that definition and the attendant rights, as such both the Senate and House agree on what a journalist’s duties are and what journalism entails:

"the regular gathering, preparing, collecting, photography, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public."

But the House version which has more people, defines further by adding:

"for a substantial portion of the person's livelihood or for substantial financial gain and includes a supervisor, employer, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of such covered person."

So, in effect, if journalism is a hobby or passion you do as a public service, or if you are a freelancer without a boss--both of which easily describe a blogger--then the government reserves the right to force you to tell them who told you something, much like the government tried to do with New York Times journalist Judy Miller under the Bush Administration. Of course if you are a blogger anyway - you should not have the same rights.

Oh boy - this means that all you Bloggers and Twits out there are going to have to be careful how you do - what you do and about whom.

And that includes me.


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