Juris Doctor 134 of 161 – AKA Citizen Journalists … Not!

There has been an interesting ruling this week issued by the New Jersey’s Supreme Court concerning journalist source protections and the delineation between who may be able to claim the protections granted journalists. The Court ruled that bloggers and online posters don’t have the same protections for sources as mainstream journalists do. While I certainly support separating the wheat from the chaff, the bigger question is now, or more appropriately continues to be extended, is two-fold.

First, do professional journalists maintain personal blogs or post expressions online? Rhetorical question I know. If the only protected space lies within the ancient walls of the publication’s corporate walls, is the court creating a business class monopoly essentially? Is a person protected after they create for themselves “My Publishing Company LLC” and present the same information? There is a semantic loophole I think.

Second, what is the threshold for classifying a person as bona fide journalist and citizen journalist? Technology continues to outpace the law. We live in an age where everyone is allotted more than their personal fifteen minutes of fame. With the proliferation of social networking, social media outlets, blogs, wikis and citizen reporter outlets associated with even the most established publication conglomerates, we have permitted the mundane to equal time on that digital soap box. When everyone is special, suddenly, no one is special.

Fact checking is a key element of professional journalism and a facet missing from all the other poser posters out there who blathering self-proclaimed truths to their adoring public propagating myth, mythology and urban legends. Unfortunately too many gullible souls exist who embrace the misinformation as fact.

The laws of defamation apply universally which is I think is a very good protection. The unfortunate thing though about defamation, an in the case of online posting, libel, is that once you tear open a defamatory feather pillow and case it to the online jet streams, no legal remedy can completely cure the harm done.

Personal accountability is paramount and unfortunately the modern world has a diminishing supply of that. I really like the capability to cross-reference, fact check or cross-compare that these technologies give us. The down side is that with a volume of vocational and avocational sources at my fingertips, I’m left to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Read the back story here: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/06/nj_supreme_court_to_rule_wheth.html