About a week ago, in "Bloggers, you're second-class citizens now," I discussed the case of Oregon "investigative blogger" Crystal Cox. A federal court has decided that Ms. Cox is not a true journalist and, thus, not protected against defamation suits by Oregon's journalism shield laws, despite her claims to that dubious title.
The judge in that case proceeded to lay out seven criteria that separate journos from bloggos. I suggested that interpretation could have negative repercussions for many bloggers, including those of us who straddle the line between both worlds. Cringe fan D. B. wondered why I didn't mount a stronger defense for journalistic ethics:
How can anyone deny that ... Ms. Cox is anything more than a woman with a harsh opinion of someone, and a global megaphone from which to proclaim it? No citations, no third-party verification, no evidence of anything approaching "fair and balanced," as degraded as that term has become.
In the past, you've railed against the decrease in journalistic integrity, and rightly so. I applaud you for that. I'm just surprised that you're not using this case as a rallying cry to get more bloggers to follow journalistic best practices, rather than wondering if maybe the sky really is beginning to fall.
I agree with D. B. and the Oregon court that Cox is a defamer, not a true ink- or HTML-stained wretch. But even on its best days, this blog barely meets four of the court's seven criteria for "journalism." I can think of respected blogs that barely meet any. The danger I see is from deep-pocketed entities who use this ruling to squelch criticism by suing solo bloggers into silence. It could get ugly out there.
In "The freedom to tweet: Not applicable in Thailand or Kansas," I wrote about how staffers working for Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas tried to punish a high school student for a disrespectful tweet she posted -- in clear violation of her First Amendment rights. I also asked readers to name their favorite Constitutional amendment. You can guess which one many of them picked. R. G. offers up the following classic example: "My favorite is the 2nd Amendment ... Remember, an armed man is a citizen. A disarmed man is a subject."
Needless to say I'll be a bit more careful about ticking off any "citizens" while I'm within range.
Finally, in "Pointless Internet surfing: It's the American way," I go on a bit about recent research that indicates most Americans surf the Internet because they have nothing better to do (that, and the apparently overwhelming desire to attack each other anonymously). Reader P. B. has this to add:
Hey, reading your blog isn't a waste of time. I think of it more as an "investment." And I don't need some pseudonymous, cowardly twit like yourself disabusing me of that essential prop to my cherished, carefully-nurtured but ever-so-fragile self-image!
He's kidding about that last bit, I think. He is kidding, right? I hope he's not armed.
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This article, "The latest fanboy obsession is ... Windows Phone 7?," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.