We’re All Journalists Now

I recently finished the book, “We’re All Journalists Now” by Scott Gant. I was largely underimpressed by the book in terms of the references to things going on in the wider world of citizen media which were mostly already familiar to me. Where the book does excel is in explaining some of the legal issues associated with the press clause of the constitution and how the supreme court and lower state courts have interpreted this as far as the rights of “journalists.” Basically the supreme court says that there should be no special privileges given to “members of the press” whereas numerous state laws have ceded some rights to “journalists.” These rights include for instance not having to disclose the source of one’s information if asked by a court. Gant makes the case that having special rights for journalists is difficult because of the difficulty in defining who exactly should BE considered a journalist. In the end, he argues that everyone can be a journalist and that “journalist” should be defined according the process that one follows rather than that someone make their livelyhood or be associated with a traditional news organization. With respect to the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of 1996, a “representative of the news media” was defined as “a person or entity that gathers information of potential interest to a segment of the public, uses its editorial skills to turn raw materials into a distinct work, and distributes that work to an audience.”

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