Bloggers will “probably not” be considered journalists for the purposes of the proposed US law to shield reporters from being compelled to testify in court, says the bill’s sponsor.
The Free Flow of Information Act of 2005 would cover “any entity that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, or other means and that publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical in print or electronic form; operates a radio or television station (or network of such stations), cable system, or satellite carrier, or channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier; or operates a news agency or wire service.”
Senator Richard Lugar, who is sponsoring the bill, told journalists that this definition probably does’t cover bloggers. I hope he’s wrong about his own law. I think I’m an “entity that disseminates information by electronic means and and that publishes a periodical in electronic form”.
But if he’s right, this is another example of why it is dangerious to create a legal definition of journalism. Invariably, such definitions will fail to cover some of those people who need access to a public-interest exemption to testifying about confidential sources.