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Lawmaker Wants To Define ‘Reporter’ In A Bid To Control Information

July 2, 2013 by  

Lawmaker Wants To Define ‘Reporter’ In A Bid To Control Information
PHOTOS.COM

America’s oldest incarnation of journalism had nothing to do with major news networks and iconic ink wretches like Bob Woodruff and William Randolph Hearst. In the years leading up to the Constitutional guarantee of press freedom, it was all about pamphlets and soapboxes.

That free flow of information, not always accurate but readily available, likely had a great deal to do with the Revolutionary spirit that engulfed much of the countryside leading up to the Nation’s war for independence. Over the decades, however, news became business. And sprawling populations, economic hurdles and busy schedules made it possible for only those with the best means of production to hold a monopoly over mass information.

The Internet has changed that. Now, every American with a connection to the World Wide Web has the opportunity to act, for better or worse, in the capacity of a one-man news team.

Unfortunately, the Nation’s ruling class has taken note of the Information Age. And they are hell-bent on creating restrictions that would pick and choose who is and who is not afforded journalist protections pursuant to the 1st Amendment.

In a recent Chicago Sun-Times contribution, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), makes the case for restrictions on who can consider him or herself a journalist:

…Everyone, regardless of the mode of expression, has a constitutionally protected right to free speech. But when it comes to freedom of the press, I believe we must define a journalist and the constitutional and statutory protections those journalists should receive.

The media informs the public and holds government accountable. Journalists should have reasonable legal protections to do their important work. But not every blogger, tweeter or Facebook user is a “journalist.” While social media allows tens of millions of people to share information publicly, it does not entitle them to special legal protections to ignore requests for documents or information from grand juries, judges or other law enforcement personnel.

A journalist gathers information for a media outlet that disseminates the information through a broadly defined “medium” — including newspaper, nonfiction book, wire service, magazine, news website, television, radio or motion picture — for public use. This broad definition covers every form of legitimate journalism.

To those who feel politicians shouldn’t define who a journalist is, I’d remind them that they likely live in one of the 49 states, like Illinois, where elected officials have already made that decision.

The leaks of classified information about the NSA’s surveillance operations and an ongoing Justice Department investigation into who disclosed secret documents to the Associated Press have brought this issue back to the forefront and raised important questions about the freedom of speech, freedom of the press and how our nation defines journalism.

It’s long past time for Congress to create a federal law that defines and protects journalists.

Like so many other things that fall out of politicians’ mouths, the words “It’s long past time for Congress to create a Federal law that defines and protects journalists” may sound pretty good at first. But, they also smell of a certain kind of Congressional funk. So here are a few relevant questions:

  • Is Durbin of the mind that Congress should work to protect only “legitimate news media” (i.e., the mainstream media, which acts as a government public relations asset)?
  • Does Durbin believe that conservative blogs have journalistic value?
  • Does a freelance reporter who uses Twitter as a medium of mass communication qualify as a journalist?
  • Could this be used as a means by which to clamp down on the free speech of average people with information to share?

The respective answers to the aforementioned queries are likely: “yes,” “no,” “no” and “yes.”

Per Durbin: “A journalist gathers information for a media outlet that disseminates the information through a broadly defined ‘medium’ — including newspaper, nonfiction book, wire service, magazine, news website, television, radio or motion picture — for public use. This broad definition covers every form of legitimate journalism.”

If the Senator’s goal is a return to the monopoly age that major newspapers and television networks enjoyed prior to the proliferation of mom and pop information peddlers on the Internet, he’s making the right argument. But to support his effort, you have to believe you are too stupid to decide what is and isn’t reliable information.

If you have already accepted that, get off the computer and click back over to FOX. Hurry, you may still have time to catch some of Gretchen Carlson’s thigh.

Sam Rolley

Staff writer Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After learning about many of the biases present in most modern newsrooms, Rolley became determined to find a position in journalism that would allow him to combat the unsavory image that the news industry has gained. He is dedicated to seeking the truth and exposing the lies disseminated by the mainstream media at the behest of their corporate masters, special interest groups and information gatekeepers.

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  • Harold Olsen

    Basically, what the left wants to do is define a journalist is someone who agrees with them and does not criticize them Any member or the media who criticized the left is not a journalist in their eyes. Can’t you just smell the fear coming from the left???

    • Speak2Truth

      This is a normal part of the “Consolidation of Power” after a Leftist coup (which the US suffered in 2008).

      Control over information is critical to their perpetration of The Big Lie and a practice we call Defending The Lie. As long as The People only get to hear the Lie, repeated by all the official information outlets, that becomes their truth. The NAZIs (Socialist Workers Party) carried this to an extreme in the age of radio. All German citizens had to turn in their radios to be destroyed, then were issued State-mandated radios that could only receive the frequencies broadcast by the official government information outlets. Cuba, China and other Leftist hell-holes carefully control access to information on the internet.

      Remember when Obama told a group of college students to not pay attention to all that confusing information they can find on the web, to instead read the Huffington Post? Those are the words of a Leftist dictator, not an American who respects the open flow of information. Now, slowly but surely, the Left will try to accomplish by force what their boss recommended.

  • Warrior

    Personally, I would like to see “turbin” limited to 0 speaking engagements. Put that in your “law” dicky and smoke it, you “progressive” hack!

  • dan

    Politicians have GOT to be sweating bullets over the NSA having records of their communications and the Freedom of Information Act. We’re ALL watchmen on the wall.

  • BHR

    What Durban means is the liberals will decide who has the right, fair like the IRS. More loss of FREEDOMS.

  • Paul Anthony

    Would Benjamin Franklin, who wrote “Poor Richard’s Almanac”, qualify as a journalist? Not if it was the British who got to define journalism.

  • vicki

    Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), says:

    …Everyone, regardless of the mode of expression, has a
    constitutionally protected right to free speech. But when it comes to
    freedom of the press, I believe we must define a journalist and the
    constitutional and statutory protections those journalists should
    receive.

    Interesting. I see nothing in the First Amendment that mentions freedom of the press being limited to “journalists”. In fact it says that the (dis)honorable Mr Durbin is specifically forbidden from passing a law that would give special protections or cause restrictions of the right of the people to use the press.

  • vicki

    The governments have been trying to restrict the press for MANY years. Just look at those special “press pass” badges you have to get to go to some public events.

  • mnkysnkle

    Isn’t that special!!
    First they get activist judges to redefine homosexuality as “gay”, the “gay agenda” as a civil rights movement, then they want to redefine “marriage” then more judges rule to redefine the NBC issue as any turd dropped on American soil is a NBC. And of course redefine “terrorist”. Then they act as if these rulings actually amend the constitution “ipso facto”. So; now they want to redefine what is a journalist?? Why don’t they just redefine the dictionary. This reminds me of the time “slick Willy” tried to redefine “it”!!…… Isn’t this expected??

  • LadyFloridaCracker

    Slick Willy said “it depends on what is, is!” ;)

  • Ibn Insha

    If I had a nickle every time a politician opened his mouth to shower us with his wisdom I could retire by the end of the day with enough money to last for my children, grandchildren and their children.

    Durbin said, “To those who feel politicians shouldn’t define who a journalist is, I’d
    remind them that they likely live in one of the 49 states, like Illinois, where elected officials have already made that decision.” It is clear from this statement that Durbin is suffering from “delusion of grandeur” that he can define a journalist although our founding fathers refrained from doing so. Furthermore, if state of Illinois has already done so, so should the other states as if state of Illinois is America’s Vatican City.

    This is just another ploy to infringe upon our freedoms. These politicians should be kept under check by replacing every election cycle or the damage these morons can do will take a long time to fix and at a very high cost.

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