Everyone, regardless of the mode of expression, has a constitutionally protected right to free speech. But when it comes to freedom of the press, I believe we must define a journalist and the constitutional and statutory protections those journalists should receive.
The media informs the public and holds government accountable. Journalists should have reasonable legal protections to do their important work. But not every blogger, tweeter or Facebook user is a “journalist.” While social media allows tens of millions of people to share information publicly, it does not entitle them to special legal protections to ignore requests for documents or information from grand juries, judges or other law enforcement personnel.
A journalist gathers information for a media outlet that disseminates the information through a broadly defined “medium” — including newspaper, nonfiction book, wire service, magazine, news website, television, radio or motion picture — for public use. This broad definition covers every form of legitimate journalism.
Freedom of the press was not designed by the Founding Founders (!) to protect only the owners of printing presses.
Methinks Sen. Durbin’s interest in demarking Journalists vs. citizen journalists extends beyond being able to force bloggers to reveal their sources.
And if traditional Journalists would do their jobs (as in, “inform[ing] the public and hold[ing] government accountable”), we would not need so many citizen journalists.