NOTE: The opinions expressed by our individual bloggers are their own, and not necessarily those of Young Democrats of Atlanta.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Citizen journalists?
Today's bloggerA couple weeks ago, we were contacted by some online "news gathering" company that apparently takes the content of scores of disparate news websites, industry analysis outlets, and yes, even blogs, rearranges them, categorizes them, identifies crucial keywords and adds links from them...all kinds of "value added" stuff I'm not clear on, and sells the re-packaged content to, well, people who have enough money to buy such stuff. This company has decided they want to cut us in on some royalties so they can syndicate our blog. Naturally, I assumed they were on crack, or were really trying to solicit our help in moving some secret bank funds out of Nigeria. I mean, I knew we were pretty cool, but I didn't think we were quite up to licensing.

And then last week, after I started to backpedal on my support for nuclear power, we were paid a visit by a gentleman in the policy department of the nuclear industry's biggest lobbying outfit. He apparently spends part of his afternoons combing through hundreds, thousands of blog entries talking about nuke power in order to keep the Nuclear Energy Institute's finger on the pulse of national opinion. Fancy us, we were worthy of him stopping, reading, and commenting. My heart began to swell like Navan R. Johnson's: "I'm somebody now! I'm in PRINT! Things are going to start happening to me now."

Lucky for us, a California Court of Appeals has our backs:
A trial court quickly granted Apple's request for a court order requiring the sites to provide any information that might help them to identify who was responsible for the disclosures.

The sites appealed, arguing that both California law and the US constitution provided legal protections against compelling journalists to reveal the identity of their sources.

The California appeals court was therefore faced with a novel question. Are online journalists entitled to the same legal protections as their offline counterparts?

Apple argued that they are not, maintaining that the sites were not engaged in "legitimate journalistic activities" and that online journalists "were not among the class of journalists protected by the statute".

The court roundly rejected both arguments. It first concluded that there was "no workable test or principle that would distinguish 'legitimate' from 'illegitimate' news". It added that the statute is "intended to protect the gathering and dissemination of news", which is precisely what the online sites were doing.

The court was similarly supportive of the proposition that online journalists should be entitled to constitutional protections, stating that "we can see no sustainable basis to distinguish petitioners [the online journalists] from the reporters, editors, and publishers who provide news to the public through traditional print and broadcast media".

So, if anyone reading this blog was just waiting for an excuse to dish out some really juicy gossip, by all means, do share; we'll go to the mat for ya!
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posted by Aerodad at 6/07/2006 11:30:00 PM


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