In the last several years, bloggers have become important contributors to our national conversation. But that contribution is being ignored in Washington, D.C. Congress is debating whether to establish a federal shield law that will protect journalists from having to disclose their sources and news gathering material. But the current version of this bill defines who qualifies as a journalist in such a way that it will exclude anyone who is not affiliated with an established media organization. That means citizen journalists and bloggers are left completely unprotected. In addition, this will be a first step down the dangerous road of creating an exclusive guild of journalists.
There are two options: either we do nothing or we act. If we do nothing, maybe the bill will disappear. Or it passes and marginalizes citizen journalists and bloggers by denying them the protections afforded to journalists who work for large media organizations. If we act, we can encourage our Congressional representatives to change the definition of journalists to include bloggers and citizen journalists within the scope of the shield law. We might also shine a brighter spotlight on the topic of citizen journalism.
So that’s the choice: do we do nothing, or do we act?
If you have doubts about whether a shield law is important, maybe you should watch this video: