A leaked instruction manual for a cell phone has led to this:

Judge: Blogger not a reporter, must turn over information-Chicago Tribune

A spokesman for the blog, which has a staff of writers and editors, said the case is the first time in Illinois a judge has been asked to rule whether a blogger is the same as a journalist in the law’s eyes.

Judge Michael Panter, while acknowledging that it was “a fast-evolving issue facing courts everywhere,” ruled that TechnoBuffalo isn’t a news medium and its bloggers aren’t protected under Illinois shield laws for journalists.

Elizabeth Bradshaw, an attorney for the blog, said she plans to appeal and the decision potentially “poses a threat to all news media, including bloggers.” Rettinger issued a statement saying he was “extremely disappointed.”

So, in Chicago, a blog with a staff of writers and editors (claiming one million visitors a month) and attracting leaks is not ‘news media’ … How does this square with the NZ Law Commission’s (trivially low IMO) suggested threshold for definition as ‘news media’ with attendant (cough) ‘Rights, Responsibilities and Regulation’ …

1. has a significant proportion of their publishing activities being the generation and/or aggregation of news, information and opinion of current value
2. disseminates this information to a public audience
3. regularly publishes
4. is accountable to a code of ethics and a complaints process


Are we heading for typical NZ Wild West-style light regulation? Is a door-wide-open approach the only way to tackle devious liars on the Internet?


– P

(thanks to Kashmir Hill)

See also: Bloggers v journalists and ‘YOU don’t say who or who isn’t a journalist’