Friday, April 08, 2005

Are bloggers journalists?

This is a big question these days and has some significant legal implications as well: "Are bloggers journalists?". A post by Dan Bricklin led me to an essay by Christopher B. Daly, professor of journalism at Boston University, who has written an essay on a web page (but not a blog post) on the topic, entitled "Are Bloggers Journalists? Let's Ask Thomas Jefferson". It's certainly worth considering what factors were relevant to journalism back in the late 1700's, and how the situation has evolved since. Unfortunately, his essay doesn't give a truly definitive answer, but its points include:
  • It is clear that bloggers enjoy First Amendment rights, which are strongest at protecting opinions.
  • It is less clear that they should be entitled to the protections of all the other laws that have been passed since the Founding that affect journalists.
Part of the problem is that a lot of the laws regarding journalists have come about as the business of journalism has evolved dramatically since the time of Jefferson.

I think what's really needed is an open discussion of both free speech and freedom of the press, since in this age of the internet and blogging, it's not so clear that there is really that much of a distinction in cyberspace. Many blog posts are actually quite superior (relevant, informative, timely, and sometimes even more accurate) to much of the material that actually passes for "news" and journalism. Certainly not all, but a critical mass is building.

-- Jack Krupansky


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