Social Enterprise

Are independent online reporters (bloggers) second-class citizens?

Does my affiliation with CNET TechRepublic make me a first-class citizen? According to this News.com article, it sure does: "So who should you call a journalist?

Some news organizations are embracing blogs as a legitimate form of journalism. However, the Justice Department recently criticized the leading journalist's shield law proposal for allowing criminals to pose as bloggers.

Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, offered the following explanation: "The relative anonymity afforded to bloggers, coupled with a certain lack of accountability, as they are not your traditional brick-and-mortar reporters who answer to an editor or publisher, also has the risk of creating a certain irresponsibility when it comes to accurately reporting information.”

CNET News.com's Declan McCullagh isn’t worried, since News.com will likely be covered under the final version of a federal shield law. McCullagh recognizes that the current debate has a downside for the average Joe blogger with journalistic tendencies: “That line of thinking could pose a real threat to people who use the Internet to do journalism. Not only will it make it harder to do the kind of serious reporting that requires confidential sources, but it's deeply symbolic: Independent online reporters are second-class citizens.”

I'm curious to know if anyone else is irked by this article. Fellow bloggers, what are your thoughts?

About Sonja Thompson

Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.

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