Thursday, March 31, 2005

Who or what is a journalist?

USA Today also tackles the question of who or what is a journalist? Contributor Philip Meyer, the Knight Professor of Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, wonders that too. His thesis is sobering:
    Journalism today operates under a kind of feudal system. Just as serfs once provided their labor to the lord of the castle in exchange for protection, reporters today rely on the corporations that hire them to give them the legal clout to take risks in digging out the truth.

Trouble is, bloggers and independent authors don't get that kind of protection, so the First Amendment "shield" still leaves them pretty exposed in practice. Bloggers haven't yet got around to seriously banding together and organizing for protection, though Meyer notes the emerging role of the Electronic Frontier Foundation in providing some legal assistance to California bloggers who are being pursued by Apple Computers. Apple argues that the bloggers revealed "important trade secrets" about their company. Thumbs down for Apple; thumbs up for the EFF (click here for their web site).


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