Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
How the Swiss newspaper NZZ is building products to try and cultivate new paying audiences
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Sept. 23, 2009, 11:33 a.m.

Shield law: Definition of “journalist” gets professionalized

Last week, as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepared to vote on a federal shield law, I wrote about the competing definitions of a journalist in the House and Senate versions of the bill. Well, I have bad news on two fronts: The Judiciary Committee didn’t vote on the shield law, but it did adopt an amendment that would exclude amateur journalists from protection.

Previously, the Senate was working with a version of the shield law (S. 448) that defined a journalist in broad terms, focusing on the process and craft of newsgathering. That stood in contrast to the House version (H.R. 985), which passed in March and defines a journalist as someone who gathers news and information “for a substantial portion of the person’s livelihood or for substantial financial gain.”

On Thursday, according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) offered an amendment to the Senate version that hews toward the professional definition in the House. Under the amendment, which was adopted by the Senate Judiciary Committee, a journalist is defined as someone who:

(iii) obtains the information sought while working as a salaried employee of, or independent contractor for, an entity—
(I) that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, or other means; and
(II) that—
(aa) publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical;
(bb) operates a radio or television broadcast station, network, cable system, or satellite carrier, or a channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier;
(cc) operates a programming service; or
(dd) operates a news agency or wire service;

As I observed last week, the shield law obviously needs a definition that limits its scope, but the professional definition, which now seems inevitable, would exclude student journalists as well as bloggers with a day job.

POSTED     Sept. 23, 2009, 11:33 a.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
How the Swiss newspaper NZZ is building products to try and cultivate new paying audiences
“Now we are in the process, with our new data platforms, of analyzing clusters of users and identifying which cluster has a higher likelihood to convert to a paying subscriber.”
Paywalls and politics: Independent Russian television station TV Rain turns to subscriptions as its future
Shifting the focus to digital was hardly just a business decision, though: “Really, this was pretty much the only source that could help us go through.”
For Western news companies looking to India, partnering with local publishers is a path in
Vice is only the latest American or British publisher to seek out an Indian partner — in its case the Times Group — for reasons that combine local knowledge and legal restrictions.