Monday, March 21, 2005

Rocky Mountain News sides with the bloggers

An editorial in Saturday's Rocky Mountain News begins thusly:

Count us among the growing legions who embrace the notion that Web bloggers deserve the same shield-law protections accorded to other journalists.

Color me thrilled to see the MSM supporting bloggers in this way, unlike some newspapers.

The only depressing thing about the editorial is this:

Unfortunately, Colorado's law appears to exclude Internet journalists. It defines "mass media" as "any publisher of a newspaper or periodical; wire service; radio or television station or network; news or feature syndicate; or cable television system." So the need for a tech-savvy update is acute, preferably before an Internet-related case lands in a Colorado court.

I wonder though - does this really restrict bloggers from invoking Colorado's shield law? The Rocky Mountain News' interpretation of Colorado's shield law uses a "strict interpretation" of its definition of mass media.

But there's another commonly used standard for interpreting laws -- original intent, or originalism. To quote Wikipedia:

Originalism in constitutional interpretation is the view that the meaning of a written constitution is (or should be) consistent with the meaning as it was originally understood by those who drafted and/or ratified the constitution. Originalism is especially prominent in connection with controversies over the interpretation of the United States Constitution.

Of course IANAL, but it seems to me that the law's intent is to protect journalists, not to protect the ennumerated forms of media. A looser interpretation of the definition of mass media in the law could include blogs under the category of periodical or even news or feature syndicate.

This is clearly an important issue that needs to be resolved. The interesting thing is that we're likely to end up with many different interpretations and laws that address an issue that is undeniably global in nature, that is, any issue that involves the Internet. Maybe someday the laws will catch up. For now, I just want to see as many state courts (and maybe even the Supreme Court) interpret these shield laws as I believe their authors intended.