Bloggers are journalists – Or are they?

Yesterday, Josh Wolf, a blogger, was released from prison in Northern California. He spent 226 days (7 1/2 months) in prison for refusing to testify or turn over videotape he had taken of a San Francisco street demonstration where a police officer was injured.

California has a shield law, but there is no corresponding federal law. The US Attorney pursued the matter on the grounds that the San Francisco police department receives federal funding.

Wolf, a young man in his 20’s, refused to cooperate on the grounds of freedom of speech.  He has served more prison time than any journalist in U.S. history for refusing to reveal unpublished material or sources.

The deal he made with the U.S. Attorney included giving up videotape that previously had not been shown on his blog site and answering two questions under penalty of perjury (but not testifying before the Grand Jury). 

All he did, and no one claimed otherwise, was witness an event as an observer. He did not participate in the protest that resulting in the officer’s injury nor had any prior knowledge of the events that were to unfold. He wanted to record an event that he believed would not have been (and was not) covered by the major media in the area.

Blogging can be powerful! Blogging is another method of distributing news. The challenge, as with all media, will be to differentiate between "news" and "opinion."  Thanks to this young man for pushing the envelope a bit further with new technology.


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