Saturday, January 02, 2010

Source Confidentiality Bloggers Vs. The Government

I was just over at TechCrunch reading a post by Michael Arrington (The Tyranny Of Government And Our Duty Of Confidentiality As Bloggers) and felt a need to chime in on this issue. At hand is the question of whether or not a blogger should be given equal protection under shield laws as a reporter or journalist.

A shield law is a law that gives reporters some means of protection against being forced to disclose confidential information or sources in state court. There is no federal shield law (although a limited one has been passed by the House and awaits a Senate vote as of July 2008), and state shield laws vary in scope, as further discussed in this article. In general, however, a shield law aims to provide the classic protection of, "a reporter cannot be forced to reveal his or her source" law. Thus, a shield law provides a privilege to a reporter pursuant to which the reporter cannot be forced by subpoena or other court order to testify about information contained in a news story and/or the source of that information.
By definition reporters are journalists working for mass media, by my thought and the wikipedia definition a reporter should be expected to report in the most objective and unbiased way to serve the public good. The are to be held to a certain journalistic integrity, something that sadly most bloggers don't follow.

By my own admission I don't feel as though I'm a journalist, reporter or otherwise. I'm a blogger, an individual, not a part of the so called "media". My posts are made from my personal thoughts and opinions. Yes I try my best to do hold myself to a set of standards (perhaps above most). I try to maintain a high level of integrity by doing my research and confirming my reports and my sources as best as possible. But I'm not unbiased nor am I totally objective!

Arrignton's Very Subjective Opinion

Arrington takes a rather bold stance calling out fellow bloggers Steven Frischling and Chris Elliot whom were visited by TSA agents and threatened with jail time if they did not reveal their source of the TSA Travel Directive that they each published shortly after the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas day. In his post he says, "He [Frischling] lacked the courage to stand up for what’s right....He let all bloggers down."

Arrington contends that Steven Frischling, a self employed photographer, founder of The Travel Strategist, and blogger for the blog Flying With Fish, should have "taken one for the team". Even if it meant spending time in jail. He thinks by Frischling taking a stance it may have led to stronger laws protecting all bloggers.

To my opinion I think the first responder daesin says it best. "Fundamentally and philosophically I agree with you, Michael. But currently most bloggers are not protected constitutionally or by the courts in the same was as journalists for traditional and recognized media. Most bloggers would be considered, legally, as just private citizens and thus fully subject to subpoenas or search warrants."

Where Arrignton is wrong!

As bloggers and individuals we are given a certain set of freedoms that most of the press are not. We are rarely ever held to the same set of standards, nor do most of us wish to be. Many bloggers seem to loose site of the truth we are not journalists nor are we the media. Sure we might like to think so and sure the line is blurred in many occasions but its the cold hard fact, we are what we are!

As @dasein said bloggers are individuals, sure some might be professionals, but most aren’t. We can’t stand up and say we want the same protection of free speech and free media then stand back when we make false/inaccurate statements, over-zelus assumptions or false accusations and then say we can’t be held liable as the “media” would be.

Apparently Michael wants to play both sides of the fence on this one.He wants to have all the rights and none of the responsibilities.

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