Bloggers in Oregon, watch out. That’s because this month an Oregon court ruled that bloggers do not have same protection as the “media.”
This ruling emerged when Crystal Cox, a blogger, was accused of defaming Obsidian Finance Group and its co-founder Kevin Padrick on her blog. She posted that Padrick acted criminally in a federal bankruptcy case. Padrick sued and the court found that Cox was not protected under the state’s media shield law.
This decision has implications for bloggers around the country.
Since there is no legal definition for “the press,” this court ruling is one of the first to explicitly say that bloggers are not the media. This comes only a few short months after a federal court ruled that anyone, including bloggers, may legally record public officials, including police officers. The ruling said:
[C]hanges in technology and society have made the lines between private citizen and journalist exceedingly difficult to draw. The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.
[Page 13 of the Slip Opinion from Glik v. Cuniffe]
While the Glik case was a victory for citizen journalism, the Oregon ruling is a failure to recognize the drastic changes occurring in the journalism world. Current technological advancements have made the line between citizen journalists and mainstream media harder to define. This is beneficial not only to anyone who produces news but also news consumers as well.
Editors Note: While Politsite and Iron Mill News Service holds media credentials, we think that freedom of the press translates to those who maintain journalistic standards including include bloggers. Over the last two elections cycles, we have seen Bloggers afforded the same level of credentialing that mainstream media has received, especially in Politics.
In recent years, some have lumped us with Bloggers (which we have mixed feelings) even though we have reported on Elections since 1996 via online media and an electronic extension of the print publication we managed at the time. We disagree with a global assessment that all bloggers should not be afforded the same protection as media. We do think Bloggers who want to be afforded media recognition adopt a similar code of ethics as their Mainstream media colleagues.