Monday, March 12, 2007

Bloggers as Journalists

By Christopher Truscott

I posted this comment (below) to Minnesota Democrats Exposed in the wake of a Minnesota court ruling granting bloggers the same protections as journalists. Any thoughts?

Bloggers are journalists. Journalism isn’t a profession that requires a license, like a doctor or lawyer. All you need is the 1st Amendment, which is alive and well. (The 4th, 6th and 9th might be in trouble, however.)

In modern times we have the illusion of journalism as a more-or-less “fair and balanced” institution, but it hasn’t always been that way.

The newspapers of a century ago were so partisan they’d even make the most die-hard Air America or Fox News consumer blush. Skip back another century and you had politicians like Jefferson, Hamilton and Burr, et. al., sponsoring newspapers that smeared their opponents.

After decades of presenting both viewpoints (to some degree, at any rate) and letting the reader/viewer decide, blogs have emerged and taken us back to our roots. Hard as it may be to imagine, the founders would totally get what Web sites like MDE or Publius or Dump Bachmann are all about.

Reminder: We've got plenty of fun stuff here, including:

  • Pawlenty as a VP wannabe

  • Newt meets with James Dobson

  • Newt feeds Ann Coulter to alligators
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    At 11:19 PM, Blogger Prendergast said...

    whoa whoa whoa! slow down, big fella! That's not what the judge's ruling said!

    I read the copy that Doug Tice posted on the Strib Big Question blog, and the judge's ruling was a hell of a lot narrower than "bloggers have the same protections as journalists." I mean, I can see that a person might read it that way, but all it is is a summary judgment from a trial court.

    Tice hinted that HE thought the decision added "responsibilities" of journalistm to bloggers--which I don't see at all.

    Chris, you were a journalist for years and years. What are some of the things that a jounalist has to have, before going into print with a story--that blogger's aren't required to have, before going into print with a story?

    I mean--if you're a journalist who wants to print something as "news", some controversial story--what does the profession say you should do in the way of getting sources, checking facts, getting quotes from the people involved?

    At 11:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    There are various ethical "requirements" for how journalists should behave, but legally there is very little. It's a much more lawless profession than say being a teacher, doctor or lawyer.

    You trade on your credibility. If a newspaper prints crap, it's viewed as such. But there aren't laws that require reporters go the extra mile. It's more or less, do you have reason to believe it's true?

    If the case in question had involved a newspaper instead of a blog, Olson, a public figure, would've had difficulty finding a lawyer.

    Here's a better story, by the way:

    At 11:53 PM, Blogger Prendergast said...

    That's not what I was looking for.

    I know there's no laws, as such, I was looking professional guidelines regarding sourcing (aren't you supposed to have two sources, if you're reporting a controversial story, or something like that?) guidelines about getting quotes from someone who's going to be accused of misconduct in a newspaper story, before you got to print?

    Stuff like that. I know you can't give me "laws," but hit me with a few "professional guidelines from the newsroom." If there are any.

    At 11:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Multiple sources for key information is a big one, but the media already blows that one off pretty routinely. Repeated attempts to contact the key person is another. (Though if they don't resond that's their problem.)

    See you don't need me.


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