posts about or somewhat related to ‘bloggers’
— Robert Hernandez, professor of new media at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. For journalism’s future, the killer app is credibility.
Over 40 states have shield laws that protect journalists from revealing information about the sources used during their reporting.
This is all well and good until you get into the tricky business of actually defining who a journalist is. Someone reporting for CNN? No brainer. Except for jaded, we all agree he or she is a journalist.
But what about someone reporting for a new startup with a part time staff of three? Or the lone blogger who digs deep into one particular subject?
In Oregon, a judge has decided that shield laws only apply to those who are officially part of an established media organization (again, defining what that might mean leaves us scratching our heads).
Via the Seattle Weekly:
A U.S. District Court judge in Portland has drawn a line in the sand between “journalist” and “blogger.” And for Crystal Cox, a woman on the latter end of that comparison, the distinction has cost her $2.5 million…
…Cox runs several law-centric blogs, like industrywhistleblower.com, judicialhellhole.com, and obsidianfinancesucks.com, and was sued by investment firm Obsidian Finance Group in January for defamation, to the tune of $10 million, for writing several blog posts that were highly critical of the firm and its co-founder Kevin Padrick.
Representing herself in court, Cox had argued that her writing was a mixture of facts, commentary and opinion (like a million other blogs on the web) and moved to have the case dismissed. Dismissed it wasn’t, however, and after throwing out all but one of the blog posts cited by Obsidian Financial, the judge ruled that this single post was indeed defamatory because it was presented, essentially, as more factual in tone than her other posts, and therefore a reasonable person could conclude it was factual.
The judge ruled against Cox on that post and awarded $2.5 million to the investment firm.
Now here’s where the case gets more important: Cox argued in court that the reason her post was more factual was because she had an inside source that was leaking her information. And since Oregon is one of 40 U.S. states including Washington with media shield laws, Cox refused to divulge who her source was.
But without revealing her source Cox couldn’t prove that the statements she’d made in her post were true and therefore not defamation, or attribute them to her source and transfer the liability…
…The judge in Cox’s case, however, ruled that the woman did not qualify for shield-law protection not because of anything she wrote, but because she wasn’t employed by an official media establishment.
From the opinion by U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez:
… 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.
In a survey of 98 bloggers from the Middle East and North Africa, researchers from Harvard’s Berkman Center explore issues of online security and perceptions of risk as the bloggers write about social and political issues in their respective countries.
The bloggers chosen for the survey were those that had been cited by Global Voices Online, an international news and citizen media aggregator. The survey was conducted in May 2011.
The report’s authors note a caveat in their findings:
The unusual sample populated by reform-minded bloggers and the timing of the survey — following a period of intense online activism and government attempts to quell this activity—contribute to these high figures. This makes it impossible to extrapolate to other populations and regions. Nevertheless, these reported figures are astounding from our perspective and highlight the vital importance of security concerns for online activists. As we anticipated, the respondents report a mix of cyber attacks and offline responses to their online activities.
Forbes reports that AOL’s Patch seeks to supplement its network of local editors with community bloggers.
Per the Huffington way, contributors will be paid in glory.
As Jeff Berkovici writes:
Arianna Huffington must not be taking that class action lawsuit against her too seriously. Not only is AOL’s new content chief not cutting down on the use of unpaid bloggers, she’s doubling down — literally. Patch, AOL’s network of hyperlocal news sites, is trying to recruit as many as 8,000 bloggers in the next eight days, according to editor in chief Brian Farnham.
We’ve set a big goal here but I KNOW we can hit it. Ten times 800 sites is 8000 bloggers—wouldn’t it be amazing to have that many local voices sounding off right out of the gate? Let’s shoot for it and let’s do it.
Eight thousand free and willing contributors? Amazing, indeed.
Via the New York Times:
The Huffington Post is the target of a multimillion dollar lawsuit filed in United States District Court in New York on Tuesday on behalf of thousands of uncompensated bloggers.
The suit seeks at least $105 million in damages for more than 9,000 writers.
The case raises significant unsettled questions about the rights of writers in the digital age and, at the very least, promises to offer a palette of colorful characters on each side.
How has Twitter impacted journalism?
It’s made news reporting much more distributed: no photojournalist produced anything like this, for example (see link in article). It’s massively increased the velocity of news: people now know what’s going on before it’s formally reported. It’s made it easier to find things you didn’t know you were interested in. It’s given journalists a much more human voice, an outlet where they can be themselves. It’s helped build a culture of linking to wonderful stuff. It’s made the world smaller, and it’s made news travel faster than ever. Overall, it’s been great.
— Felix Salmon of Reuters
Back in 2008, the AP and iCopyright talked excitedly about their new partnership, an early attempt to make bloggers license AP’s content instead of simply scraping it. Now, the two aren’t so friendly anymore. iCopyright has sued the AP, and a copy of the suit is finally available.
The AP today said: “The lawsuit brought by iCopyright is without merit. AP plans to defend its rights vigorously.” It claimed that [PDF] iCopyright broke its promises.
The AP’s early moves to get bloggers to license its content in 2008 were a PR disaster. The wire service in mid-2008 asked for takedowns on short excerpts from The Drudge Retort, a liberal news site that was a parody and critique of The Drudge Report. In response, TechCrunch banned AP stories from its site, and AP was widely criticized for asking for takedowns on short excerpts that many argued were obvious examples of “fair use.”