The world is filled with nut cases,
and Marco A. Hernandez, a U.S. District Court judge in Portland OR is one of them. Dr. Prague points out in a comment below, there are two sides to every story. In this case, the other side is written by David Carr and appeared in today’s New York Times. It is compelling and it forces me to reassess my acrimonious attack on Judge Hernandez. I may have inserted foot in mouth and then inserted it further. Read the rest of my early morning rant with a grain of salt…
This month, Judge Hernandez ruled that Bloggers who fail to show ties to an established newspaper, magazine or news bureau (presumably, it must be one that this nut case has heard of), are not in fact legitimate writers, editors or journalists. In his view, if a journalist’s podium is the internet of if they lack mainstream affiliation, or if they are self-published, then they are disqualified from the protection of the shield law, a basic statutory protection for anyone who publishes.
The title of this post asks “Does a Blogger qualify as journalist”. Of course, the answer is clear: One can argue over the truth of a report, quality of writing or credibility of a publisher (in the case of a Blog, the publisher may also be author & editor). But few argue over the credentials necessary to be a journalist. Anyone with a soap box qualifies, if they believe what they say and they reach out to listeners. It doesn’t matter how small is their podium, how unpopular their message, and it certainly doesn’t matter if they are self published. This is the 21st century, Judge! The Internet may not be The Great Equalizer, but it certainly bestows a badge of editor, publisher and journalist on anyone who chooses to broadcast news and opinions.
Of course, other judges, lawyers and legal scholars around the country – including the attorney who drafted the shield law for Washington state – point out that Oregon’s definition of journalism “a bit outdated”. (a term of professional courtesy…The attorney wanted to say that Judge Hernandez is a nut case). Who appointed him arbiter of the affiliations that constitute a credible journalist? What about editorial pundits, Facebook housewives, and foreigners writing overseas? Will he go after them for failing to reveal their sources?
It’s a safe bet that Judge Hernandez’s decision will be overturned in the near future, if only for the uncountable number of Bloggers whom he suddenly turned into criminals. But just in case Crystal Cox, the Blogger-defendant does not pursue an appeal, or in the event some other yahoo strips my freedom from a bench closer to my jurisdiction, let’s be clear about this blog. Consider it the fine print for all of AWildDuck.com:
This Blog represents the opinions of the editor & publisher or the guest writer whose contribution appears under the Wild Duck banner.
In the event that our writers use confidential sources, these sources will remain confidential until the source releases our writer from that obligation. In the case of guest writers, even our editor & publisher does not demand to know the identities of confidential sources. Our writers and various columnists are vetted and then invited based on their individual reputation. In turn, this reflects on the reputation and journalistic stature of AWildDuck Blog.
But let’s be clear: Everything you read on these pages is an opinion. All unsigned posts are the ruminations & opinions of Ellery Davies. In fact, there is but one statement of fact that is not an opinion. It is this: U.S. District Court judge Marco A. Hernandez
is a nut case. I may need to perform surgery here — perhaps a complete retraction. Please don’t judge the judge until you read this new information from today’s New York Times.
So sayeth Ellery.