Over at Stubborn Facts, Tully has been providing extensive coverage of the continuing progress of an utterly-wrongheaded bill that will essentially limit press freedom to the established and well-paid journalistic elite, and strip away those freedoms from the average citizen.
This bill started off innocently enough, but in the legislative factory, a nefarious change was made. Here's how the bill started out:
(2) COVERED PERSON- The term `covered person' means a person engaged in journalism and includes a supervisor, employer, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of such covered person.
...(5) JOURNALISM- The term `journalism' means the gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public.
All good in the hood so far, right? Even righty Mike Pence supported this bill at first. But here's the problem. Look at what happened:
(2) COVERED PERSON- The term `covered person' means a person who regularly gathers, prepares, collects, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports, or publishes news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public for a substantial portion of the person's livelihood or for substantial financial gain and includes a supervisor, employer, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of such covered person.
See what happened? Now the bill only protects you if you're a paid journalist, and journalism is a substantial part of your livelihood. In other words, the average blogger is left out.
This bill, HR 2102, passed the House in October. Tully brought it to the forefront again, after coming across this, which uses some of the most absurd reasoning I've seen in a while, and tries to make the case that citizen journalism is dangerous:
Supporters of "citizen journalism" argue it provides independent, accurate, reliable information that the traditional media don't provide. While it has its place, the reality is it really isn't journalism at all, and it opens up information flow to the strong probability of fraud and abuse. The news industry should find some way to monitor and regulate this new trend.
It seems that Congress has already started on that.
Hazinski continues, with this nugget:
This is like saying someone who carries a scalpel is a "citizen surgeon" or someone who can read a law book is a "citizen lawyer."
Umm, no, it's not, you idiot. First off, there is no constitiutional right to be a lawyer or a surgeon, and the field of journalism is so different from law and medicine, that your analogy is rendered beyond ridiculous.
The underlying argument here, and the underlying argument in the change in the bill, is a belief that the press has special freedoms granted them by the Constitution. The Founders didn't give freedom to the press, they gave the freedom of the press, to the people.
I wrote on this awhile back, when the NYT tried to justify their leak of the SWIFT terrorist banking story.
This bill needs to die in the Senate, and quickly.
HT again to Tully over at SF.