A Federal judge in Oregon has ruled that a Montana woman who was sued for defamation was not considered a journalist when she posted online that an Oregon lawyer acted criminally during a bankruptcy case.
United States District Judge Marco Hernandez’s ruling, which may impact bloggers throughout the country, said that Cox was not a journalist and cannot claim the protections against lawsuits afforded to mainstream reporters and news outlets.
Cox said she considers herself a journalist because she has produced more than 400 blogs over the past five years and uses a technique that gets her postings on the top of search engines, where they get the most readers, according to The Associated Press.
“What could be more mainstream than the Internet and the top of the search engine?” she said.
Cox was sued for defamation by attorney Kevin Padrick when she posted on her blog that he was a thug and a thief during the handling of bankruptcy proceedings by him and Obsidian Finance Group, LLC. Obsidian and Padrick said that their business has been hurt by the blogger’s statements and that she was guilty of defamation of character.
“If anyone can self-proclaim themselves to be media, the concept of media is rendered worthless,” Padrick said. “When everyone is media, the concept of media is gone.”
The judge agreed, saying that Cox had no journalism education, credentials, affiliation with a recognized news outlet, proof of adhering to journalistic standards such as editing or checking her facts, evidence she produced an independent product or evidence she ever tried to get both sides of the story.