Dianne Feinstein backs Media Shield Law to protect only ‘real reporters’
California Senator Dianne Feinstein has proposed an amendment to the Media Shield Law, a law targeting the First Amendment which would limit the law’s protection only to “real reporters,” not bloggers and other upstart alternative media types.
A real reporter, declared Feinstein during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, is “a salaried agent” of a media company like the New York Times or ABC News, not a “shoestring operation with volunteers and writers who are not paid.”
Feinstein voiced her concern “that the current version of the bill would grant a special privilege to people who aren’t really reporters at all, who have no professional qualifications,” like bloggers and citizen journalists.
Last week, Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, worried the Shield Law, if passed, would be used to protect whistleblowers and others who ferret out government corruption.
“The world has changed. We’re very careful in this bill to distinguish journalists from those who shouldn’t be protected, WikiLeaks and all those, and we’ve ensured that,” Schumer said. “But there are people who write and do real journalism, in different ways than we’re used to. They should not be excluded from this bill.”
Back in June Dick Durbin penned a recent op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times called, “It’s time to say who is a real reporter.”
“To those who feel politicians shouldn’t define who a journalist is, I’d remind them that they likely live in one of the 49 states, like Illinois, where elected officials have already made that decision,” Durbin writes. “It’s long past time for Congress to create a federal law that defines and protects journalists.”