October 8, 2007

A Shield For Me, But Not The BBC

The Senate will decide who gets to be a journalist and who doesn't as part of its effort to craft a shield law for reporters. In order to protect journalists against government demands to reveal sources, lawmakers first have to decide who qualifies for that protection. The machinations have created what everyone expects of the necessarily bureaucratic approach taken by Congress -- a real mess.

At Heading Right, I thank the Senate for declaring me more of a journalist than reporters of the BBC. I'd rather they recognize my overwhelming genius, but apparently I outrank them merely because the BBC gets its funding from the British government. It demonstrates the problems that arise when government has to start classifying people, and the danger of having the feds determine who qualifies as a journalist.

The entire exercise seems a strange effort for government, which has a legitimate interest in securing information, although perhaps never to the extent they classify material. Those who see wrongdoing have other mechanisms with which to get attention to the malfeasance, including directly contacting Congress with the information rather than the New York Times or Robert Novak. This shield law makes it easier for people to abuse both national security and the free press for their own political motivations.


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» SHIELDING THE PRESS from Word Around the Net
However, like all rights and freedoms, this comes with responsibility and limits. Newspapers can print things, but if they deliberately print lies about someone then they are vulnerable to libel prosecution. Newspapers are not utterly free without any ... [Read More]

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