A court in Oregon USA has ruled that bloggers are not journalists and so they are not protected by the same laws which protects journalists. The District Court judge ruled in a case where a blogger was who was sued by an investment firm, Summit Accommodators, for defamation after the blogger, Crystal Cox, wrote a piece accusing the firm of fraud. The judge ruled that the blogger needs to pay the Obsidian finance group a compensation of $2.5 million (Ksh 22o Million).
Summit Accommodators went to court with the argument that the post was defamatory also demanding to be paid US $10 million (Ksh 885 million) by Cox in January 2011. Cox disputed that and argued that the post was factual saying that she had a source which she had to protect. Summit Accommodators demanded that she reveal her source
Cox represented herself in the case and refused to reveal her source, arguing that she was protected by “Oregon’s shield law” which is designed to protect journalists from revealing their sources.
Oregon Shield Law States;
No person connected with, employed by or engaged in any medium of communication to the public shall be required by a legislative, executive or judicial officer or body, or any other authority having power to compel testimony or the production of evidence, to disclose, by subpoena or otherwise:
(a) The source of any published or unpublished information obtained by the person in the course of gathering, receiving or processing information for any medium of communication to the public; or
(b) Any unpublished information obtained or prepared by the person in the course of gathering, receiving or processing information for any medium of communication to the public.
The presiding judge disputed that arguing that, “although [the] defendant is a self-proclaimed ‘investigative blogger’ and defines herself as ‘media,’ the record fails to show that she is affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system. Thus, she is not entitled to the protections of the law in the first instance.”
The judge further argued that even if the shield law applied, they would not have protected the identity of the source of and entity in a civil trial.
“Because this case is a civil action for defamation, the defendant cannot rely on the media shield law,” the judge ruled.
Cox says she will appeal the decision and represent herself again.