Sunday, March 06, 2005

Free Flow of Information Act of 2005

Michelle Malkin points out that Dan Gillmor indicated that H.R. 581 (the "Free Flow of Information Act of 2005") sharply circumscribes the definition of who's a journalist -- and appears to explicitly exclude bloggers and other non-traditional online journalists.

Who's get the protection? The legislation would give it to:

A) an entity that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, or other means and that--

(i) publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical;

(ii) operates a radio or television broadcast station (or network of such stations), cable system, or satellite carrier, or a channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier; or

(iii) operates a news agency or wire service;

(B) a parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of such an entity; or

(C) an employee, contractor, or other person who gathers, edits, photographs, records, prepares, or disseminates news or information for such an entity.

In other words, bloggers need not apply unless they work for a major publication or broadcast.

See a pattern?

We're moving toward a system under which only the folks who are deemed to be professionals will be granted the status of journalists, and thereby more rights than the rest of us. This is pernicious in every way.

Mass media journalists and their bosses should be leading the fight against what's happening to bloggers. I fear they won't, because old media typically refuses to defend the rights of new entrants until the threats against the new folks directly threaten everyone.

points out that Rep. Mike Pence that introduced the Free Flow of Information Act of 2005 has .

Martin Stabe says Defining “journalism“ for the purposes of extending special protections is dangerous business — not because of who it protects, but, as we see here, because of who it excludes from that protection. and here he says Journalists should never forget that the First Amendment and the freedom of expression guarantees in other liberal democracies are not intended to protect and privilege professsional journalism, much less enterprises that sell commodified news.

Freedom of expression is intended for all citizens to discuss politics in public without threat of intimidation. The fact that the prohibitively high cost of participating in the public sphere has until recently confined the exercise of that right to professional journalists and moneyed publicists is purely incidental — a disfunction of liberal democracy arising out of economic reality not an intentional privilege to be defended.

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