Two competing versions of a federal shield law for reporters — a law regarding a journalist’s right to keep their sources confidential by banning the government from forcing them to reveal information on whistleblowers — is reportedly once again sparking the debate of how to define a journalist and whether or not blogging is considered journalism.
The House version’s definition of a journalist excludes bloggers, freelancers, independents and nonprofit journalists. The Senate version covers a person who is engaged in journalism. Both bills have exceptions for national security, terrorism and when reporters are eyewitnesses to a crime.
The bills were re-introduced to provide new, though limited, protection against subpoenas for journalists, and both versions contain a range of exceptions. Similar legislation was introduced in 2007, when the House version passed overwhelmingly and the Senate version passed easily out of committee but died without a full vote when the session ran out.