The public’s right to know meets the public’s right to inform
Whether one has journalistic protections should depend less on job title and more on function. Anyone, like Mr. Ciarelli, who gathers news on a subject of public interest and disseminates it to a waiting audience is entitled to the protection of a journalist. ThinkSecret has 2.5 million to 5 million page views a month.
A few years ago, there was an absurd debate about whether online reporters should have the same status as print reporters. The argument about bloggers will seem as frivolous – and irrelevant – in a few years.
Already, bloggers have played a key role in a number of important news stories, including Sen. Trent Lott’s racist remarks at Sen. Strom Thurmond’s birthday, CBS’s flawed report on the president’s military record and Eason Jordan’s resignation as a CNN vice president for briefly suggesting U.S. soldiers might have targeted journalists.
The democratization of the news media through the blogosphere is the inevitable product of technological development. The principle of the public’s right to know doesn’t depend on who is gathering the news. The American people are entitled to read and hear all of the information that enterprising newshounds, including bloggers, legally can pry from the clutches of corporate and government officials.
I’ve been saying lately that what’s interesting about media today is the content consumption has crossed with content creation (the iPod playlist you create to listen is the radio station you’ve created to broadcast).
This principle must be reflected in the law:
The public’s right to know meets the public’s right to inform.