Should bloggers be given the same protection as journalists?

To confuse the distinction between bloggers and journalists further (and then there are journalists who blog…) a landmark case in the US has seen a blogger afforded the same legal protection as a journalist.

Blogger Philip Smith had posted about his bad experience of delivery company BidZirk over which the company launched a lawsuit claiming defamation, privacy invasion and trademark violations.

According to a post on Eric Goldman’s blog, the court gave the following reasons for Smith’s victory in the case:

Smith was immune from trademark claims because his reference to BidZirk was in the context of news reporting or news commentary.

Though the court doesn’t equate bloggers and journalists generally, it gives Smith the same protection given to journalists.

Even more bewilderingly, as Smith’s own blog says, the court found:

It’s not the format it’s the content and intention that make text journalism/reporting.

Clearly in this kind of sticky situation no blogger would turn down this ‘protection of a journalist’ clause (some bloggers, it would seem, see it as a kind of legal loophole to hide behind).
But do bloggers want to adhere to the same standards of practice as journalists? The concept of journalists who also have blogs surely underlines the idea that blogging and journalistic writing are two different occupations.

There are arguably crossovers and this ruling seems to suggest that blog content must be viewed on a post-by-post basis – sometimes it will be seen as blogging, other times as journalism.

Is this really what the blogosphere wants or does a new code of blogging practice need to be implemented?

2 thoughts on “Should bloggers be given the same protection as journalists?

  1. Arnold

    Although I see where you are coming from with it, I think there would be a serious problem in considering the blogging/journalist tag on a post by post basis and that’s simply that you’d need to consider some newspapers in the same manner.

    Whilst I’m sure we’d all agree “journalists” are the people that work in the likes of the Times, I’m not so sure that the “journalist” tag would always apply in, say, the freebie local newspapers or, at least, not for all of the articles one would come across there.

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