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Shield Law Sponsor Lugar: Bloggers 'Probably Not'


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Where the living livid FUCK does KONgress feel it has the ability and better yet the Constitutional authority to regulate Speech?


k, ready to Push Reset Button on the whole Political Sewer, L.


Shield Law Sponsor Lugar: Bloggers 'Probably Not' Considered Journos


By Mark Fitzgerald


Published: October 10, 2005 4:17 PM ET


INDIANAPOLIS Bloggers would "probably not" be considered journalists under the proposed federal shield law, the bill's co-sponsor, U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.), told the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) Monday afternoon.


Lugar emphasized, however, that debate is not yet closed on how to define a journalist under the proposed law.


"As to who is a reporter, this will be a subject of debate as this bill goes farther along," he said in response to a question from Washington Post Deputy Managing Editor Milton Coleman. "Are bloggers journalists or some of the commercial businesses that you here would probably not consider real journalists? Probably not, but how do you determine who will be included in this bill?"


According to the first draft of the Free Flow of Information Act of 2005, the "covered person" protected by the bill's terms includes "any entity that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, or other means and that publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical in print or electronic form; operates a radio or television station (or network of such stations), cable system, or satellite carrier, or channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier; or operates a news agency or wire service." The legislation also covers employees, contractors or other persons who "gathers, edits, photographs, records, prepares, or disseminates news or information for any such entity."


A key reason some journalists oppose the popular federal shield proposal is fear that giving Congress the power to define who is and isn't a journalist could lead effectively to the licensing of journalists.


In other remarks about the legislation at IAPA's 61st General Assembly, Lugar acknowledged that the legislation could amount to a "privilege" for reporters over other Americans.


"I think, very frankly, you can make a case that this is a special boon for reporters, and certainly for their role in freedom of the press," he said. "At the end of the day what we will come out with says there is something privileged about being a reporter, and being able to report on something without being thrown into jail."


Lugar said he was inspired to write the legislation by the jailing of New York Times reporter Judith Miller. "I've known Judy Miller for many years," he said, adding that they became close when she was reporting on his efforts to dismantle the former Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal.


The bill is necessary to help the United States regain its status as an "exemplar" of press freedom, Lugar told the IAPA. "Even as we are advocating for free press (abroad)... we'd better clean up our own act," Lugar said.



Mark Fitzgerald (mfitzgerald@editorandpublisher.com) is E&P's editor-at-large.

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The First Amendment ensures both freedom of speech and freedom of press. By placing limits on what can be said to certain members of the second, it limits the first unconstitutionally.


Though I don't think there's anything unconstitutional in itself in limiting the definition of "the press," but any definition that fails to include bloggers is a bad one.

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