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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 20, 2011 10:45 AM. The previous post in this blog was Our Top 20. The next post in this blog is Worst. Nativity scenes. Ever.. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Is this blog "media"? Am I a "journalist"?

We spent some time on the public radio yesterday as a guest on a talk show that was taking up the question whether or when bloggers are "media" or "journalists." The question comes up quite a bit these days -- for example, when bloggers try to attend "executive sessions" of public governing bodies or try to resist subpoenas that would make them reveal their sources.

The occasion for the latest round of attention is the huge libel judgment that was rendered recently against Crystal Cox, a Montana blogger who had defamed a lawyer in Oregon who was serving as a bankruptcy trustee. In the course of deciding that case, federal Judge Marco Hernandez, here in Portland, ruled that the blogger wasn't "media," and the criteria he used to make that decision are controversial, to say the least. Under his approach to the question, it's not clear whether yours truly would make the cut or not. Working against us, in his view, are the facts that we do this alone, and we don't print out our content on dead trees.

We think the judge got the result right in the case before him, but the route he took to get there was troublesome. Fashioning a better approach is going to be important if freedom of speech is going to be protected, but it will be no easy task.

Be that as it may, we learned quite a bit getting ready for the show. One important facet of the case is that the judge's interpretation of the Oregon media shield law -- the Watergate-era law that allows media workers to protect their confidential sources -- probably was irrelevant. That law specifically states that it can't be used by a libel defendant such as Cox. And so whether she is or isn't "media" for purposes of that statute was an academic question that the judge didn't need to reach.

More troublesome, though, is an Oregon Supreme Court opinion from the '80s, in which "media" was singled out for enhanced protection under the constitution in defamation cases. Under that decision, which involved the Bank of Oregon and Willamette Week, if a "media" figure commits libel (harmful untruth) against a person who is not a "public figure," he or she can't be held responsible unless his or her conduct was negligent. If someone is not "media," however, apparently Oregon law may hold him or her liable for the defamation without regard to whether he or she was negligent. It's the old "strict liability" concept for libel and slander -- if what you say is untrue and it damages someone, you're on the hook. That concept has been on the run since the early '70s, but apparently it still survives in the Beaver State in 2011.

And it doesn't sound right to us. There is plenty of precedent for the proposition that the constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press covers the "lonely pamphleteer" as well as the large corporate print institution. Those of us in the former category here in Oregon would like that recognized. Maybe the brilliant minds of our state legislature could get on the issue.

Comments (3)

Legal points aside, I think a common sense approach in considering who is an actual "journalist" can be viewed as who provides the general public with the greatest degree of timely, accurate, and factual information. In this respect, you have the "O", WW, and the Mercury beat hands down Jack.

Either by sources, or simply sifting through mountains of information, you consistantly give a more accurate explaination of the issues (any monkey business)of government. That is why you have the readership you do.

That, and your jokes. I was driving up to the mountain yesterday and heard a news story on the radio about Libya; The first thing that entered my mind was the quote: "I never touched her Libya." I lughed so had I nearly had to pull over. Gets my vote for best political joke of the year.

Merry Christmas.

Jack you had me until the last sentence. You do have a sarcastic wit!

Here's my daily list, in no special order:

http://www.aljazeera.com/
bbc.com
bojack.org
oregonlive.com
noaa.gov

maybe...
latimes.com
nytimes.com
black-iris.com (current top item: lands transferred to HM King Abdullah II's name.)

So bloggers, at least some, are part of media and deserving of strong protections. At least if we want to continue to call this a democracy.



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Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
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Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
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Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
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Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
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Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
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L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
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Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
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Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
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Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
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Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
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Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
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G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
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Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
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Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
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Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
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William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

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Miles run year to date: 104
At this date last year: 151
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
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In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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