BVD-clad bloggers want privileges without responsibilities
I previously reported a law journal article that argues in favor of extending the reporter's privilege to pajama-clad bloggers. Now there is a book that is making the same argument: "We're All Journalists Now: The Transformation of the Press and Reshaping of the Law in the Internet Age," by Scott Gant. A book review in Publishers Weekly says,
Using specific landmark constitutional law cases, as well as contemporary examples, including the Valerie Plame case and the San Francisco Chronicle reporters who uncovered the BALCO scandal, Gant makes the case that the health of our democracy requires a press clause that entitles journalists to constitutional protection from revealing their sources . . . . . His scope is radical, simultaneously calling for the enactment of federal shield laws for the press and a greatly expanded definition of who is a journalist (roughly, everyone). Gant's forward-thinking logic is presented convincingly, though he dismisses the most immediate problems with suspicious facility.
Some of the "immediate problems" of granting the reporter's privilege to BVD-clad cyberjournalists are discussed on pages 72-78 of the law journal article I mentioned.
The book's table of contents is here. The book's first chapter, which gives an overview of BVD-clad cyberjournalism, makes no mention at all of the problem of arbitrary censorship of blog visitors' comments. For example, the first chapter says,
. . . many bloggers specialize in topics to the extent few professionals employed by media companies can, and the Web arguably provides better error-correction mechanisms than traditional media with large numbers of "fact-checkers" weighing in at warp speed.
But with arbitrary censorship of comments, there is no "error correction mechanism" from "fact-checkers." And arbitrary censorship of comments not only prevents correction of factual errors but also prevents the presentation of dissenting opinions.
I prefer "BVD-clad" to "PJ-clad" because Hugh Hefner considers PJ's to be formal wear.
Labels: Internet censorship (new #1)