Press Freedom

February 5, 2010 • Volume 20, Issue 5
Should partisan bloggers get free-press protections?
By Peter Katel


James O'Keefe was charged With illegally entering office (AP Photo/U.S. Dept. of Justice)
Conservative activist and self-described journalist James O'Keefe was charged in late January with illegally entering the office of Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., with associates posing as phone repairmen. Last year he impersonated a pimp during meetings with staffers of the community organizing group ACORN. (AP Photo/U.S. Dept. of Justice)

Wrenching changes in the news business are starting to alter the legal landscape for journalists. The federal Freedom of Information Act and “shield” laws in many states give reporters access to official documents and offer some protections against prosecutors who demand to know their confidential sources or information that reporters have gathered. But amid catastrophic revenue declines, media companies struggling to stay afloat have less money to throw into court fights to enforce their journalistic rights. And the increasing numbers of online bloggers — including those who call themselves independent journalists — have even fewer resources. Moreover, politicians have been arguing over which kinds of bloggers — if any — should be defined as journalists entitled to free-press protections. The debate on that issue has stalled progress on a proposed federal shield law in the Senate, though backers were hopeful of reaching a compromise.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Journalism, Newspapers, and the Media
Jan. 28, 2022  Misinformation and the Media
Oct. 02, 2020  Social Media Platforms
Sep. 18, 2020  The News Media
Aug. 24, 2018  Conspiracy Theories
Jun. 09, 2017  Trust in Media
May 30, 2014  Digital Journalism
May 03, 2013  Media Bias
Apr. 26, 2013  Free Speech at Risk
Apr. 12, 2013  Combat Journalism
Nov. 2010  Press Freedom
Oct. 08, 2010  Journalism Standards in the Internet Age
Feb. 05, 2010  Press Freedom
Mar. 27, 2009  Future of Journalism Updated
Jun. 09, 2006  Blog Explosion Updated
Jan. 20, 2006  Future of Newspapers
Apr. 08, 2005  Free-Press Disputes
Oct. 15, 2004  Media Bias
Oct. 10, 2003  Media Ownership Updated
Dec. 25, 1998  Journalism Under Fire
Jun. 05, 1998  Student Journalism
Sep. 20, 1996  Civic Journalism
Sep. 23, 1994  Courts and the Media
Aug. 24, 1990  Hard Times at the Nation's Newspapers
Jan. 19, 1990  Finding Truth in the Age of ‘Infotainment’
Aug. 18, 1989  Libel Law: Finding the Right Balance
Jun. 06, 1986  Magazine Trends
Oct. 12, 1984  News Media and Presidential Campaigns
Jul. 15, 1983  State of American Newspapers
Oct. 23, 1981  High Cost of Libel
Dec. 23, 1977  Media Reforms
Mar. 11, 1977  News Media Ownership
Jun. 21, 1974  Access to the Media
Dec. 20, 1972  Newsmen's Rights
Aug. 16, 1972  Blacks in the News Media
Dec. 15, 1971  Magazine Industry Shake-Out
Jul. 18, 1969  Competing Media
Sep. 02, 1964  Politicians and the Press
Dec. 04, 1963  Libel Suits and Press Freedom
Jan. 09, 1963  Newspaper Mergers
Dec. 20, 1961  Reading Boom: Books and Magazines
Dec. 02, 1959  Privileged Communications
Apr. 25, 1956  Newsprint Deficit
May 06, 1953  Government and the Press
Sep. 21, 1948  Press and State
Sep. 05, 1947  Newsprint Supply
Mar. 26, 1947  Facsimile Newspapers
Dec. 10, 1945  World Press Freedom
May 01, 1940  New Experiments in Newspaper-Making
Nov. 04, 1933  Press Freedom Under the Recovery Program
Domestic Issues
Journalism and the News