Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
When it comes to user data, are we done catching Google red-handed?
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
   
 
Join the 45,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
When it comes to user data, are we done catching Google red-handed?
“A dormant, stationary Android phone…communicated location information to Google 340 times during a 24-hour period, or at an average of 14 data communications per hour.”
Line is another chat app rife with spam, scams, and bad information. The volunteer-supported Cofacts is fact-checking them in the open
Users forward dubious messages to a chatbot; volunteer editors evaluate their credibility; the bot answers back to the user (and anyone wondering in the future).
Alphabet soup: Will the merger of PRX and PRI shift the competitive landscape of public radio (and podcasting)?
Plus: A wave of new releases for the fall, an up-and-down week for My Favorite Murder, and SB Nation goes big on local sports podcasts.