Our story starts, and with a hat tip to NGBlog for this posting, with the apparent dismay of David Badash purveyor of the blog The New Civil Rights Movement over a tweet from Brian Cuban who twited that "bloggers masquerading as journalists are a blight on the Internet".
Couldn't agree more if I had said it myself.
Contained within NGBlog's link above is a link to an article about a blogger in Oregon who lost her battle for defamation in which she was accused of the preceding offense for her writing about the co-founder of a financial group who she accused of, well shall we say less than honorable intentions. This court decision was written in December of last year but is still apropo for today's lesson.
The judge in the case ruled that the blogger was not a member of the media nor could provide any proof that she was or has ever been a journalist ergo she was not protected under journalist shield laws nor under the First Amendment.
Not all states offer shield laws and even then not all have been updated to include avenues of "new media" including bloggers and the so-called wannabes "citizen journalists" according to an article at Bloomberg Businessweek.
In the judges ruling it reads in part, “… 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 his judgement US District Judge Marco A. Hernandez ruled that the single post which was at the center of the suit, 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 according to an article at The Daily Weekly.
So you good folks of Blogdumb and eyes uh joinallist better find out if you are covered in the state you write your blog and learn about the term "absence of malice".
To help those of you who are too damn lazy to pick up a book and read law as it pertains to journalism or are of the generations who believe everything one needs to know comes magically (like putting dirty clothes in the hamper and then they reappear clean in your dresser drawers) into computers, I-pads and other such silliness of this monolithic age of technology watch the video and also get yourself a real job in journalism and then you'll be protected by Fourth Estate laws and have access to attorneys who specialize in such things.
Just because you can write and copy/paste doesn't make you a journalist no matter how many blogs or websites use your material. Someone should clue in David Badash on that little piece of news.