Saturday, August 10, 2013

Senator Feinstein Wants Federal Shield Law to Only Protect "Real Reporters"

The Washington Examiner reports: 
Any protections from a proposed “shield law” might depend on the salary of journalist involved, if Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has her way.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday, Feinstein proposed an amendment to the bill that would make the law only apply to journalists she described as “real reporters.” 
The amendment defines “real reporters” as “a salaried agent” of a media company such as a newspaper, broadcast news station, news website or another type of news service. 
According to the Associated Press, Feinstein said she was concerned that “the current version of the bill would grant a special privilege to “people who aren’t really reporters at all, who have no professional qualifications.” 
...
Someone needs to tell Senator Feinstein that "professional" journalists aren't licensed and that a journalism degree is not even required to be a reporter.  In fact, even a college degree isn't required to though most have graduated from college.   So it's unclear what Sen. Feinstein means by "professional qualifications" to be a reporter.
Gov. Mike Pence
(R-Indiana)

Media shield laws are in transition.  Indiana's shield law which was passed in 1998 only protects professional journalists.  While there is no federal statutory shield law (which Gov. Pence repeatedly sponsored when a member of the U.S. House), courts have interpreted the First Amendment to include shield protections.  Recent federal and state courts decisions are divided on whether First Amendment shield protection to bloggers and "citizen journalists," though the majority of cases appear to extend the First Amendment right to protect sources to bloggers and citizen journalists who write on a regular basis.  It does not appear, however, that the Seventh Circuit or Indiana courts have ruled on the issue.

As a member of Congress, Indiana Governor Mike Pence consistently sponsored the federal shield law and twice successfully pushed it through the U.S. House only to have it die in the Senate.  When news broke that the Justice  Department was investigating news outlets, the Governor again asked Congress to pass the federal shield law.  After some early missteps with the new media spawned by the Internet (see flap over the Governor's Facebook page), Governor Pence could score points with the public if he advocates that Indiana's fifteen year old shield law be updated to include bloggers and citizen's journalists who are often leading the traditional media when it comes to exposing corruption and government misdeeds.

Returning to Sen. Feinstein, one can only hope her amendment is based on a failure to understand the new media made possible by the Internet.  However, given that her reaction to the Snowden matter seemed more about anger of having it exposed what government officials were doing rather than a desire to protect national security, one has to wonder if her amendment is aimed at stopping those pesky non-traditional journalists who are outing public corruption on a daily basis.

2 comments:

Indy Student said...

Feinstein's amendment could be a bit tricky if "salaried" could exclude freelance agents or independent contractors. While it's pretty rare for traditional reporters to work free lance and far more common for photographers to do so, that would exclude columnists who only write once every week or two from that type of shield law. Could you imagine a prosecution of someone like George Will or Abdul just because they are not a "salaried agent"?

Flogger said...

Diane Feinstein a total apologist for the Security-Military-Industrial Complex. All she is doing is carrying the water for Obama.

You could write a book on all the assaults direct and other wise on our freedoms. Shortly after the Wikileaks releases a concerted and coordinated effort was made to shut Wikileaks down. Major Credit Companies decided they would no longer process donations to Wikileaks. The Wiki Web Site was also hit by massive Cyber Hacking. Julian Assange is holed in an Embassy in London.

Recently when it was thought Snowden was on a plane with Evo Morales, the plane was forced to divert to Vienna since several European Countries denied Morales over flight privileges. This was an International "Stop and Frisk."

Now we have the E-Mail Service (Lavabit) that was used by Snowden shutting down. A statement on Lavabit Web Site, http://lavabit.com/

"I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on--the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests."

The Constitution has been Mugged pure and simple. The attempt here IMHO is control by the Government the sources of leaks, the Reporters of leaks, and outlets for the leaks.

What Obama, Feinstein and others hope to do is put a Smiling Face on the Police State.