New amended media shield law passes committee, does not protect WikiLeaks and independent bloggers


By End the Lie

The New Hampshire Union Leader newsroom in 2007 (Image credit: Ben McLeod/Flickr)

The New Hampshire Union Leader newsroom in 2007 (Image credit: Ben McLeod/Flickr)

The amended version of a new shield law for journalists passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today, leaving entities like WikiLeaks and independent bloggers unprotected under the law.

Many current and former government officials have expressed contempt for anything even remotely resembling investigative journalism, as seen in the case of a former Obama adviser who argued that Glenn Greenwald is not a journalist.

Even media professionals have expressed similar opinions, with one senior journalist for Time saying he “can’t wait” to justify a drone strike on Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.

The definition of who can be considered a “journalist” was heavily debated in the Judiciary Committee this summer.

At the time, multiple senators, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) were concerned that a shield law could be used to protect WikiLeaks and similar groups.

“The world has changed. We’re very careful in this bill to distinguish journalists from those who shouldn’t be protected, WikiLeaks and all those, and we’ve ensured that,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at the time, according to Politico. “But there are people who write and do real journalism, in different ways than we’re used to. They should not be excluded from this bill.”

However, the new amendment to the legislation, brokered by Schumer, indeed limits the protection significantly.

Under the bill, a journalist would be defined as an individual who is in contract with or employed by a media outlet for at least one year within the last 20 years or three months within the last five years.

It would also include “someone with a substantial track record of freelancing in the last five years or a student journalist,” according to Politico.

That would leave out anyone who only works as unpaid journalist outside of what the government would consider a traditional “media outlet.”

Indeed, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation noted:

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) went above and beyond to argue that any journalist who reveals classified information should not be covered:

Mike Masnick of TechDirt notes, “In other words, those who do real investigative journalism and expose government wrongdoing wouldn’t be considered journalists if his amendment had passed (thankfully, it didn’t).”

One positive aspect of the law is that it would protect any person deemed appropriate by a federal judge so long as the newsgathering practices of that person have been consistent with the law.

Unfortunately, that leaves the call up to a federal judge. If the journalist happens to be exposing corruption in the federal court system, that wouldn’t necessarily be an appealing arrangement.

Above all this, there is something even more troubling about the whole proceeding.

As Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) rightly pointed out, the fact that the Senate is even debating who can be considered “real reporters” and “legitimate” journalists should be chilling to us all.

However, Cornyn apparently didn’t have a problem doing just that:

Masnick argues that what finally passed is “not a step in a good direction” and remains quite flawed, though it might have been better than what it could have been.

Indeed, it is quite obviously flawed given that it would remove protection when journalists most need it – in cases involving national security.

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9 Responses to New amended media shield law passes committee, does not protect WikiLeaks and independent bloggers

  1. wikifreaks September 13, 2013 at 7:50 PM

    why would you want to protect wikileaks anyway?

    julian assange says any criticism of the official account of 9/11 “annoys” him.

    again… why would you want to protect him or his shill organisation?

    Reply
    • Anonymous September 13, 2013 at 11:55 PM

      okay so wikileaks did nothign good? so we should have no protection for orgs that leak classified info?

      who paid you to post this crap?

      Reply
      • wikifreaks September 14, 2013 at 5:03 PM

        seems my reply with links for your edification has ended up in moderation purgatory – so ill try again sans links.. im sure someone you know can help you do the google..

        “okay so wikileaks did nothign good?”

        no. they didnt.. they didnt stop any wars, they didnt tell anyone anything they didnt already know ( or couldve found out if they cared to look ) no one was punished for crimes as a result of any of their leaks.. and they hung manning out to dry and gave the govt an excuse to crack down on whistle blowers.. nice..

        ” so we should have no protection for orgs that leak classified info? ”

        i didnt say that, if the only way you can make a point is to argue things i didnt say, you should give up.. everything wikileaks ‘leaked” was a joke..

        “easiest way to tell if someone is actually a paid poster: they cry shill right off the bat for no reason…”

        for no reason? reading comprehension not your strong point eh? assange says he agrees with the official account of 911… if you consider that no reason.. youre either willfully ignorant or deliberately deceptive..

        heres a start for you.. put this into google
        aangirfan: ASSANGE’S WIKILEAKS IS FAKE

        Reply
    • Anonymous September 13, 2013 at 11:56 PM

      also

      easiest way to tell if someone is actually a paid poster: they cry shill right off the bat for no reason…

      Reply
  2. Marty September 13, 2013 at 10:23 PM

    You’re not a journalist based on who you work for, or if you are paid for your work. You are a journalist based on what you do.
    If you gather information, and disseminate it to the public at large, you are a journalist.

    Reply
    • Anonymous September 13, 2013 at 11:55 PM

      exactly it is about what journalism IS — not WHO a journalist is

      Reply
  3. Sam Fox September 14, 2013 at 12:27 AM

    Looks like somebody is afraid of something…getting exposed for what they truly are perhaps? Or what their masters are up to?

    We sure don’t want any one knowing the USA is being systematically being taken apart so we can be re-booted as a total govt controlled country. Then we can be submitted to the NWO’s one world govt. as a vassal state. Read the

    Cloward And Piven Strategy
    &
    Rules For Radicals.

    Sounds like a new face on the Fairness Doctrine. We know that most media is in the bag for the ‘progressive’ movement. Most of the big names & outlets are media whores paid to propagandize on behalf of big bro govt.

    So these ANTI-Constitutionalists are moving to silence the rest of us.

    SamFox

    Reply
  4. Tech Rotation September 17, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    In fact very nice post. we know to learn many information. so can started now .

    Reply
  5. Ronnie October 23, 2013 at 7:03 PM

    “The world has changed. We’re very careful in this bill to distinguish journalists from those who shouldn’t be protected, WikiLeaks and all those, and we’ve ensured that,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at the time, according to Politico.

    Please. The 1st Amendment was meant for all, not the special tellers of tales. It has always been up to the people to discern and speak the truth and it can be no other way. Those who penned and approved of the amendment knew this. Those in power currently would like us to forget.

    Reply

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