Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Who's a Journalist?

Interesting article up on CNET from Declan McCullagh about the current effort in Congress to pass a shield law for journalists (good) and how "bloggers" are being excluded from that (bad?).

It's an interesting read as there are a lot of issues to be considered: Who says who is or isn't a journalist? Is the average citizen unable to invoke first amendment rights without fear of retribution, since he's not shielded by a press badge?

I understand the other side of the arguement. It's so easy for any joker to get up on the web these days and start spouting off (ahem, case in point: look what you are reading!). There needs to be some measure of accountability for irresponsible reporting, and this should be balanced against the protection afforded to the press.

A somewhat analogous example: Trade-only conferences/exhibitions usually have a fairly steep entry fee to (a) make up for the fact that they don't actually sell goods on teh show floor and (b) to keep the average enthusiast away. In order to encourage press coverage, they normally give free or discounted entry to press. Back when the internet boom kicked off, everyone and their uncle was showing up at Comdex/E3/etc and saying "I'm press. I edit sometechiesite-dot-com." After a while this was getting out of hand and their press attendance was up 1000%. Eventually they had to only grant press passes to "established" press. I'm not even sure how they police it today.

Anyhow, there are good points on both sides of the issue, so it makes for a good read and good debate.

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