President Obama’s remarks tonight at the White House Correspondents Dinner might help spur a to vote on a federal shield law for bloggers which is still pending
Some of you are seasoned veterans who have been on political beat for decades. Others began their career as bloggers not long ago, but I think it’s fair to say that every single reporter in this room believes deeply in the enterprise of journalism.
The Citizen Media Law Project explains the difference between the House and Senate version of the Free Flow of Information Act:
The Senate bill …covers a person “who is engaged in journalism,” and defines the latter by:
“the regular gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public.”
The House version, on the other hand, puts limits on who is covered in a way that potentially leaves most bloggers and many others outside the protective zone of the shield. From the bill:
“The term ‘covered person’ means a person who regularly gathers, prepares, collects, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports, or publishes news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public for a substantial portion of the person’s livelihood or for substantial financial gain and includes a supervisor, employer, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of such covered person.”
Most bloggers fall into the Senate definition. Heck, so do freelance print journalists. But under the House definition, you have to make substantial money from writing which really limits who gets protected. We all know that for the majority of citizen journalists, writing for print or for blogs is not a substantial living, even if hundreds of thousands of eyes might read something you write. Suddenly, one’s work, one’s career is defined by how much money they make.
So under that logic, because a Congressman, or say a President, only makes a small portion of his income from his salary as an elected representative because most of his wealth is from investments, family money, etc–does that mean he’s not really a public servant?