Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Are Bloggers Journalists?

Okay. So again last night people brought attention to the human mic that is yo. It always puts me in an awkward position and makes me think about what I am doing. One thing that always concerns me is the fear that I have misrepresented myself.

When I first started doing this I told people I was putting these meeting on the internet, but I think they forgot about me. Then later somehow down the line they started paying attention again.

Typically when I introduce myself in a professional capacity I say I'm a blogger. I do that as a way to avoid the question of whether or not bloggers are journalists. Culturally and legally it's a grey area, and it almost always distracts from everything else I'm trying to do. I've stopped caring about what I am and have decided to focus on what I do. Generally it's a question I ain't touchin' with a 20 ft. pole. But like I said. I fear I may have misrepresented myself so I'm going to poke the poodle.

There was a great Law and Order Episode, original not SVU which I think sucks, that demonstrated the point. It was made just after the old BBS' were going out of style, '95, so it's a little dated but poignant Rebels season 6 episode 2. Thank God for Netflix.

As with everything there are ethics and then there is the law. My cultural belief on the question, yes, absolutely. Nobody licenses journalists. And a good deal of the job is making choices. What's in good taste? What does the public have an interest in knowing? What's the most efficient, informative and tasteful way to do the news? Part of the reason why the traditional media developed the way it did is because it wrestled with these questions and bloggers, have to deal with those same questions. Furthermore these questions are still being wrestled with in newsrooms across the country. Just like you have gossip blogs you have gossip everything. The difference is the FCC in radio and television, but the FCC can't fine websites, newspapers and magazines for content.

There are a good deal of people whose primary source of the news is the internet. While most of them are going to legacy sites, sites run by traditional media, some of them are going blogs especially for specialty news in areas like the law, politics, technology, music and movies.

Legally this is an evolving field and nobody really has a clear cut answer yet. One case that worried me was a case in Oregon late last year.

Fast Forward to 45 minutes

I disagree with methods of the blogger in question, who was trying to invoke Oregon's shield laws in a defamation case, but I am disheartened by the judge's opinion all the same.

...although defendant is a self-proclaimed “investigative blogger” and defines herself as “media,” the record fails to show that she is affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system. Thus, she is not entitled to the protections of the law.

That said it was a written by district court judge so I don't know how much precedent it sets, but it illustrates my point.

To quote a defense witness in "Rebels," "The proper question isn't where they appeared, but the function they served."

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