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Bloggers (lawyers included) will have 1st amendent rights protected

Lot of questions of me lately from law firms as well as major media like Red Herring Magazine about bloggers’ rights. The Apple decision where the judge ordered Nicholas Ciarelli, the student who runs the ThinkSecret site, to disclose his source on Apple’s trade secrets despite his claim that as a journalist he had a right to protect their sources has have everyone up in arms.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch today made a pretty sound defense of bloggers (emphasis added).

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.

This comes on the same day that Denver’s Rocky Mountain News came out with an editorial in defense of bloggers rights as journalists.

An increasing number of blogs gather and report news – some of which appears in newspapers or on TV. The most successful enjoy audiences bigger than a large majority of newspapers. As such, they deserve no less protection than their colleagues in traditional media.

Source of post: Glenn Reynolds’ Instapundit.com and Steve Rubel’s Micro Persusasion

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