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Should bloggers be protected by Shield Laws?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by mustangj17, Apr 27, 2010.

  1. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    I ask because the Editor OF Gizmodo, a gadget blog had his house raided. The police seized some hard drives, an iPad, and computers.

    The raid came about a week after Gizmodo paid $5,000 to a person who found the new iPhone in a bar.

  2. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    I would think that bloggers who work for a credible, news-gathering organization would be protected. That includes Chen, in my mind.

    I do not think that someone sitting around blogging in their free time, offering little to nothing of newsworthy value, would be covered.

    Clarifying that distinction could be difficult, however.
  3. jfs1000

    jfs1000 Member

    This is why I am not a fan of shield laws. It protects the establishment media. That's a freedom of the press issue in its own right. Anyone AND everyone should be protected by shield laws, or no one should be protected.

    Credible news org? who decides that? The government? Yeah right. That is the same thing as some countries having registered journalists. I think not. The beauty of American press freedoms is that they are extended to all. Everyone can be a journalist.
  4. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    So Mikey the Monkey Boy throwing shit out on his blog from his back bedroom about politicians from "sources" should be protected?
  5. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    This is a dicey issue for journalists. If you favor not giving protection to bloggers, where does the line get drawn. If you write a blog for your paper, does that mean you aren't protected?

    On the other hand, if anyone can be a blogger, then anyone can be protected by the First Amendment. That's kind of a hard sell.
  6. CR19

    CR19 Member

    Shield Laws are meant to protect innocent journalists who are simply doing their job, like Chen. He was providing readers with a first look at the new iPhone, and he was doing a service for his readers. That means that he should be protected under Shield Laws. Given that this case involves a corporate giant, I wouldn't be shocked if he is prosecuted, though.
  7. Yes, bloggers should be protected. Plenty of things in the legal system already call for discretion, and I think it should be pretty easy for a judge to decide whether or not someone was legitimately acting as a journalist. But bloggers should definitely get the same protection as any other journalist.

    The Gizmodo case is interesting to me for a couple of reasons. I think Chen himself should be protected from legal repercussions, because the dude was just doing his job and probably just being a good journalist. I know I've railed against Gizmodo elsewhere on these boards for this, but I wanna be clear: Chen himself should be protected.

    Gizmodo/Gawker's management/ownership, on the other hand, should not be protected if they knew they were buying property from someone who didn't own that property and decided to go ahead with it anyway, especially if they advised/compelled Chen to go through with it. I'm not saying they should be prosecuted, either, but going "Woah, shield law!" if you've decided to break the law yourself doesn't seem cool to me.

    The other thing that's interesting: According to a story on Wired that quoted someone from the EFF, journalists are protected from direct search and seizure even if they themselves are being investigated for a crime. That doesn't mean they can't be compelled to hand stuff over: According to the source, the proper legal method would have been to subpoena the journalist/publication, allowing them to appeal the action and sort out materials relevant to the inquiry from stuff that would be specifically protected/unrelated to the subpoena.

    That sounds pretty fair to me, and it sounds like they done fucked up by executing a simple warrant and just going in and seizing stuff.
  8. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    Are you a full-time employee or regular contributor, possibly vetted by the newspaper beforehand?

    Or are you a home-based blogger the newspaper picks up to add to its blog roll so it can have Citizen Jane writing about Podunk's checkers community?

    Newspapers, or legitimate publications and websites, have a responsibility to present information deemed legitimate and credible. Chen should be protected. If the guy in the bar who found the new iPhone was a construction worker who blogged about it then he wouldn't be, and shouldn't be, considered a protected journalist.

    A nut to crack would be a journalist who has taken a buyout or is laid off from a publication and starts a personal blog. Are they still a journalist? Or are they now an everyday citizen writing about something, albeit with some experience from their time as a journalist on staff with a known or "legitimate" entity?

    Professional sports leagues draw lines on journalists and bloggers when issuing credentials, as do other entities. The gray areas could be defined.
  9. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Chen could have said no to buying the phone. "They made me do it" is not an excuse.
  10. Do we know that Chen was the one who actually bought the phone? It certainly wasn't his money, and the quotes from Nick Denton make it sound like like he (Denton) was the one who went for it, not Chen. And he certainly wasn't acting on his own behalf. It sure sounds like it was Gawker, not Chen, that bought the phone. So why would Chen be the one guilty of something?

    edit: Actually, went back and read the interviews of Denton I was thinking of. He's a lot more indirect than I had remembered and does say that Chen was the one who went and saw the device. Doesn't actually say who purchased it. I guess this would be a legal question: if you make an illegal purchase for your company as part of your job, who's liable? You? The company? You AND the company?
  11. deskslave

    deskslave Active Member

    It's not a legal question at all. If you commit a crime, you're guilty of the crime, regardless of who told you to do it. You can no more say you're innocent because your company told you to buy a stolen iPhone than you can claim you're not guilty of vehicular homicide if you kill someone because you're speeding down the interstate trying to meet an impossible delivery deadline.

    And anyone who paid for an iPhone that someone found in a bar is guilty of a crime: receiving stolen property. The person who took the phone is guilty of theft by conversion. Finders keepers, losers weepers is not a criminal defense.

    Shield laws don't allow journalists to break the law, nor should they.
  12. hondo

    hondo Well-Known Member

    Shield laws should be for serious journalists who have a shred of ethics. When you find a blogger that fits that description, let me know.
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