That tired “bloggers are not journalists” debate looks like it’ll surface in Australia’s Senate soon, thanks to The Greens. It’ll be annoying. But it’ll be a Good Thing.
At the end of October the House of Representatives passed the Evidence Amendment (Journalists’ Privilege) Bill 2010, which is all about protecting the confidentiality of journalists’ sources. In the usual jargon, it’s a “journalist shield law”.
Australia was apparently the only major democracy without such a law in place or in progress, so it’s welcome. And, in the words of the new Greens MP for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, “this bill is a good example of how all parties can collaborate on a worthwhile initiative in a way that would not have happened without the currently composed parliament.”
To facilitate its passage, the Greens will support the bill in its current form in the House, but I indicate now that we will seek minor amendments to it in the Senate. In particular, we believe that it should be made explicit that the bill covers bloggers, citizen journalists and documentary filmmakers, and that the privileges provided by the bill cover anyone engaged in the process of journalism, no matter who they are or in what medium they publish.
Well I reckon it’s great that the new law might cover more people, not just those who work as employee-journalists in the industrial media factories. It’s great that it might be technology- and medium-neutral. But…
What the heck is a “blogger” or a “citizen journalist”?