I have a friend who was a reporter for our local newspaper for years. She told me the hardest part of writing for any news service was eliminating her own biases from her pieces. She has recently moved on to a new career in the criminal justice field and says that her journalism training has helped her because she has learned to detach herself from the material she is investigating and hold her own personal biases in check. I am an amateur blogger and I don’t have that ability. When I write I strive to not put my personal slant on things but I don’t really succeed.
I don’t believe that all bloggers who blog news are journalists and I also don’t believe all those that are labeled journalists are in fact reporting without bias. While it is true that bloggers have broken and carried many a news story in the last few years and changed the course of many a life and election, it is also true that a lot of them are not coming from a position of sharing the news but from their own personal biases. Most bloggers are not trained journalists. I think that it is important to have some accountability when you are reporting on stories that can effect peoples lives. It was amateurs that plastered Ryan Lanza’s face all over Facebook-but the mainstream media let his name loose first. Turns out it was his brother who took the lives of all those children. Are the bloggers going to be sued by Lanza or are the journalists?
I can’t debate good or bad(even though my guy lost the last election). Journalists have some accountability for their stories (in most cases, anyway). I also think that having credentials as a journalist can protect the journalist as well. The same can’t be said about most well meaning ( and not so well meaning) bloggers. While allowing bloggers access to interview who they want and events they wish access too is not all bad, I can’t see how everyone could receive protection under the shield laws. That is a lot of shielding!
I think some sort of laws need to be passed in response to the mass of bloggers dabbling in the news world. As much of a legal nightmare as it would prove to be, I think such things would need to be decided on either a case to case basis, or maybe allow for a permit of some kind. I don’t even begin to understand all the ins and outs. A blanket statement would not serve anyone well.