Bloggers Freedom of Speech

Friend asked my opinion on a recent article, and although it was spur of the moment, with no research or source citing, maybe some will agree, others may not. Very least, I wanted to share.

In relation to the Macworld article about 3 blogs (or online-only magazines) that were “tentatively” told to reveal their sources to Apple.

I’m trying to give this writer a chance, but comments like this:

“The problem may be that blogs have gained a reputation for inaccuracy.”

And then:

“In traditional media, the same legal rights that allow a journalist to protect sources also hold such writers accountable to report the truth. If journalists stray from what’s true, they can be charged with libel, writes BusinessWeek.”

…can I charge this writer with libel? Think it’d hold up in court? Didn’t think so. …then again, I blatantly said I’m not citing my sources, leading many to question the accuracy of my blog. Imagine that.

Main problem is journalists are scared out of their frikin’ minds about blogs. Many are embracing it, others sticking to familiar guns. Blogging in general is a phenomenon that the general media isn’t sure how to deal with.

With record companies, it’s simple; Peer to Peer and File Trading is breaking the law, domestic and international; make them pay. I agree with this.

However, bloggers aren’t breaking any laws since there are no laws to govern such things as this. Freedom of speech lines blur under heavy litigation merely because litigation is easily interpreted for technology; case in point EOLAS and all of those other ridicolous patents. If EOLAS isn’t enough of an example, you know “pop-unders”, the pop-up windows that immediately go to the back of the window stack so they are seen since they are the last window closed; a company claimed a patent on that… that’s right, they claimed a patent on:

win =“ad.htm”, “popunder”);

2 lines of code can cost our legal system thousands of dollars because of law interpretation.

So, the this same sway in interpretation can be used by good lawyers (or mediocre ones pitted against idiots).

This also assumes the press’ ire over blogs has NOTHING to do with this case… which is bull, I bet. Anyone check the lawyer’s financial records? Who’s paying him to fight this? Apple? Sure, but do you think any of the press (non-blogs) will suddenly look favorably upon Apple? Am I being paranoid? I think I’m being reasonable at worst.

I think the key to this case is accountability, something the writer of this article pointedly remarked (but certainly not tactfully). Bloggers cannot be held accountable for their mis-information, thus they are not afforded the same rights as journalists because journalists can. While I agree with a ruling under that precept, there are not more than 2 people in this entire world holding our American media accountable… if there were, there’d be WAY more in the news beyond the CIA leak by the Washington times, and the ABC debacle. …or, would the news not report bad news on itself? Gee, wonder why; I mean, it’s the truth.

The same reason spam is prevalent on the internet is the same reason offline and online journalism veers so far off the accurate path; no enforcement of accountability; no enforcement of the laws.

Jouranlists know how far they can go. Like your dog analogy you gave me back at BellSouth, dogs know how far they can push you to get away with something, just like journalists know how fine of a line they can walk without “lying”.

Bloggers do not… unless those blogging are journalists.

The Google employee example was stupid… all you had to do was read 1 paragraph, and it was immediately apparent why the guy got fired. He had no personal restraint on what he said, nor how he said it. For a company that is quiet, researved, and conservative, this guy directly conflicted with Google’s company vision.

I agree about the blogging as an employer problem; that was the 2nd thing I discussed in my last interview. It was harder to discuss than salary negotiation!

I agree with the freedom of speech not protecting you against your blogging about your job; same thing as sending an email, posting on a forum, speeking to a friend… it’s all the same thing. The old adage my father told me holds true: “I’m never sorry for something I didn’t say.” I know you hate double negatives, but I’m sure you get the point.

Bottom line: I’m not sure what “tentatively rule” means in relation to a judges court ruling, but I agree with his ruling if, and only if, the blogs in question are not run by off-line magazines, and those writing are not professional journalists.

If Jon Stewart were to write in a blog something where his source’s identity caused litigation, that’s the only time I’d have problems answering this question… real journalists writing online should desearve the same proection they do offline; keyword here “real” and “legit”.

What defines a journalist? Only the lawyers can really answer than one, and it depends on who the judge is, but the laws “should” be shaping their behavior; they just aren’t because there aren’t many that I can see actively at the helm pushing them, with many listening.

3 Replies to “Bloggers Freedom of Speech”

  1. To the extent that journalists are treated differently by the law, it is to give them more protection, not less, but mainly only in the context of writing for an established media outlet (CNN, New York Times). A journalist will be LESS, not more, liable if something he or she prints turns out not to be true. (The standard for libel or slander in journalism is a special version of actual malice–it doesn’t matter if the statement isn’t true, the journalist can only be held accountable if he or she knew it wasn’t true or acted with reckless disregard of whether it was true or not.) The only problem with suing a blogger for libel that wouldn’t be present for a journalist is 1) finding the blogger, whose identity is not as public as the journalist’s and 2) if the blogger has no money, the blogger is judgment proof. (Journalists rarely have any money, either, but the media outlets they work for are usually rolling in it.) I think people just need to learn to be media savvy, and learn on their own, without the interference of the courts, that blogs may be less reliable. The marketplace of ideas should run like any other free market–caveat emptor, buyer beware. You have got to learn buying ideas off a blog is like buying electronic equipment out of a van–the source is suspect. The main reason why the media hates bloggers is because bloggers are threatening their control over the biggest issue of all–not what is said about the news, but what IS the news. It used to be, the NYT could decide what people talked about by controlling what they printed, what people even knew about. Now, even if the Times deep-sixes a story, because they do not want it brought to the public attention, people will learn about it online, and more often than not, in a less accurate fashion than the NYT would have used to cover it. So the NYT (and similar powerful media outlets) are FORCED to cover the news in a broader (and ultimately better, in my opinion) way.

    Hope you & your wife are doing well, Jesse.

  2. Good to see you online, Anne!

    Thanks, Brandy and I are doing well, although, I’m getting my tail worked off.. bleh!

    To me, it’s a catch 22. If jouranlists are being held accountable, I’m not reading about it. I am not that devout of a follower of the news as her majesty is, but I do catch the big ones every so often, and I rarely hear of jouranlists being held accountable for their actions.

    As such, if I were in journalism, the media, what have you, the only reason I’d cover such a story would be if it gave my business ratings/ROI, or discredited a rival.

    My guess those opportunities don’t present themselves, so if in fact journalists are being held accountable somewhere, it’s out of sight, out of mind, and the only way I’d hear about it is from some other dude with a vendetta to ensure that statement isn’t full of bs. Who is holding these people accountable, and if so, what is their punishment?

    …I don’t know, accountability to me is more enforcable for the bs detector vs. an actual slander issue. Like, if a journalist over hypes something for a story, it drives me up the wall to no end, but it’s still legal. Yet, their readership holds more power to sway than the truth, and it’s frustrating to see them get away with that unethical bs.

  3. Bottom line, I’m not seeing these degenerates getting lynched, and therefore I am not being satiated in my belief that these people are in fact being held accountable.

    Publicly humliated? Sure, but not legal action, just bloggers banding together to make someone look stupid. I want to see my tax dollars spearhead one of these mofos!

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