Thursday, August 14, 2008

August 13, 2008

Duane Goes To Bat For Bloggers

State Senator Tom Duane

Sen. Tom Duane, a Manhattan Democrat, has introduced legislation that would extend the protections of the state's shield law to "journalist bloggers."

Duane cited the recent legal battle between Room 8 and Bronx DA Robert Johnson (a situation that perhaps was not as cut-and-dried as it first seemed) as proof that such a measure is needed and predicted that without it, there will soon be an uptick of bloggers facing contempt charges and jail time for refusing to disclose their confidential sources.

The result, Duane said, would be a "chilling effect on free speech."

"New York has a proud tradition of having one of the strongest reporter’s shield laws in the country," Duane said. "I was shocked to discover that in 2008, our law does not provide protections to journalist bloggers – one of the fastest growing mediums for obtaining news. This glaring omission must not be allowed to continue.”

No doubt this will win Duane accolades in certain netroots circles, but it also opens up a rather difficult discussion about the definintion of a "journalist blogger" who is worthy of protection under the shield law and a non-journalist blogger who (apparently) is not.

This debate is already well underway at the NYPD, which denied the request for official press credentials of blogger/City Hall gadfly Rafael Martinez-Alequin. He has responded by filing a legal challenge to this decision, and has been allowed in to Blue Room press conferences in the meantime.

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