Are Bloggers Journalists? Judge Says No and Slaps Blogger with $2.5M Fine!

blogger journalist lawsuitThis news from Oregon today is fits right in with the State of the Blogging Universe series we’re doing…

Crystal Cox wrote several blog posts critical of the Obsidian Finance Group,  on in particular included information she claims was given to her by a confidential, inside source, which she refuses to name.  Obsidian sued Cox for defamation.  Cox refused to reveal her source and couldn’t prove the post is true.  If she had written the article for a transitional media organization she would have been protected under Oregon’s media shield law, but the judge in this case ruled Cox is not a journalist, therefore not protected by the media shield law, and liable for $2.500,000.

Ouch!

The trend in other cases has been towards expanding bloggers rights and protections. In fact an attorney in next-door Washington , who helped write that state’s shield laws said their laws would have protected Cox.  You can read more about the case in this article on Mashable.

What do you think of this cases?  Do you agree with the judge’s decision?  disagree?  Think it’ll be overturned if appealed?

If you blog, have you ever considered the possibility that you could be sued and not protected in the same ways that traditional journalists are.  How do you feel about that?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

5 Responses to “Are Bloggers Journalists? Judge Says No and Slaps Blogger with $2.5M Fine!”

  1. Some journalists are more equal than others…

  2. What are the boundaries between freedom of expression and public defamation?

    • PaulSteinbrueck Dec 13, 2011 at 2:51 pm

      Abel, I'm not a lawyer so I can't say for sure, but I believe defamation is intentionally spreading a falsehood.

  3. @Abel, Freedom of expression has a special position as a human right because we need it to promote and protect all human rights.