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February 28, 2007


Sophia Tu

As you stated, it doesn't make sense for the definition of a journalist to hinge on the medium they choose to express themselves in. It also seems that saying that journalists must rely on their craft for "financial gain or livelihood" (i.e. the Free Flow of Information Act of 2006) doesn't make any sense either. If the purpose of allowing reporter's privilege is to serve the public interest, then whether the person chooses to monetize their work isn't relevant to whether or not they merit protection.

Gregg Leslie (from the Hudson article) says that the definition of a journalist should revolve around what the person is doing, not the medium they are publishing in.

For example, we accept that people who report news on the radio, in print newspapers, and on TV all fall under the definition of "journalist". On the other hand, people who host reality TV shows or write novels aren't usually considered journalists and don't merit reporter's privilege. Why should bloggers be any different? If a blogger, in the process of gathering information to be disseminated over the internet, interviews sources who request confidentiality, that anonymity should be respected in a court of law.

I'm unclear on how your example of a personal entry that morphs into a community discussion involves reporter's privilege. Reporter's privilege is about protecting the identity of anonymous sources, and information that might have been obtained or created in interactions with such sources. If one of the commenters posts something substantive that is backed by an anonymous source, then perhaps the commenter should have reporter's privilege.

Sidenote: In the Free Flow of Information Act (2006), confidentiality is a formal arrangement that must be explictly requested for reporter's privilege to kick in. Should this be the norm?

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