Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the federal reporter shield law the Seattle P-I Times editorializes in favor of today. And the Thomas Jefferson quote they use to back their position is well worth repeating:
“Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.”
But I’m more than a little annoyed that in all the debate over state and federal shield laws, my colleagues in the corporate media have never once raised the issue as to whether these laws should extend to bloggers like me.
Like those hoity-toity salaried reporters, I often get tips and quotes from sources who choose to remain anonymous, and I don’t see why I should have to go to jail to protect their confidence, when, say Chris McGann wouldn’t? (And I will protect my sources, with or without a shield law, because that’s what journalists do.)
These shield laws have been structured so that they really only apply to the corporate media, that is, journalists who have their paychecks signed by Frank Blethen, the Hearst Corporation, or some other master. Yet as a student of history I’m pretty confident asserting that Jefferson would have recognized my style of reporting as much more analogous to the pamphleteers he sought to protect, than the journalistic anomaly represented by our modern dailies.