Franklin Center - Attacking the Fifth Estate: Bloggers legally belittled


We wanted to share the below editorial by Franklin Center President Jason Stverak regarding the recent court ruling in Oregon saying that bloggers are not protected by shield laws. Feel free to repost on your site. 

Attacking the Fifth Estate
By Jason Stverak 

Online Journalism Review

Bloggers in Oregon, watch out. That’s because this month an Oregon court ruled that bloggers do not have same protection as the “media.”
This ruling emerged when Crystal Cox, a blogger, was accused of defaming Obsidian Finance Group and its co-founder Kevin Padrick on her blog. She posted that Padrick acted criminally in a federal bankruptcy case. Padrick sued and the court found that Cox was not protected under the state’s media shield law.
This decision has implications for bloggers around the country.
Since there is no legal definition for “the press,” this court ruling is one of the first to explicitly say that bloggers are not the media. This comes only a few short months after a federal court ruled that anyone, including bloggers, may legally record public officials, including police officers. The ruling said:
[C]hanges in technology and society have made the lines between private citizen and journalist exceedingly difficult to draw. The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.
[Page 13 of the Slip Opinion from Glik v. Cuniffe]
While the Glik case was a victory for citizen journalism, the Oregon ruling is a failure to recognize the drastic changes occurring in the journalism world. Current technological advancements have made the line between citizen journalists and mainstream media harder to define. This is beneficial not only to anyone who produces news but also news consumers as well.

Read More at Online Journalism Review 

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Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity promotes social welfare and civil betterment by undertaking programs that promote journalism and the education of the public about corruption, incompetence, fraud, or taxpayer abuse by elected officials at all levels of government. Founded in January of 2009, The Franklin Center is a nonpartisan organization that believes that new technology can advance the cause of transparency in government. The Franklin Center aims to educate, to advise and to train individuals and organizations from all backgrounds to become thorough, unbiased and responsible reporters well versed in new media techniques and journalistic integrity. For more information on the Franklin Center please visit