FFIA

Maybe the answer to my last post if that a federal law should determine how journalists report information online.

The Free Flow of Information Act could protect journalists from revealing confidential sources that the federal government has before not included under the First Amendment. But who will the law cover? Who will be considered a “journalist”?

There have been specific guidelines made  that will qualify people as a “covered journalist”. This doesn’t necessarily define who is a journalist, but more so who is protected when acting as a journalist.

  • The person is an employee of or freelancer for any service “that disseminates news or information” no matter the mechanism of distribution, including media and technologies not yet invented. This definition is a considerable improvement over previous versions, which listed specific media (newspapers, magazines, radio, TV stations and websites) that would be eligible for protection. The media coalition, with critical input from ONA, recommended this broader definition to ensure that the bill protects not only traditional media and websites, but also mobile applications and “any other news or information service (whether distributed digitally or otherwise).”
  • The person must regularly gather news and information on matters of public interest for the purpose of disseminating that information to the public and must have been doing so at the time he or she gathered information from a confidential source.

FFIA also protects bloggers in this context. Rather than petty, old arguments about licensing who is a journalist and who is not, the bill focuses more on the content being provided to the viewers. If it is clearly committing an act of journalism, than that person will be thought of as a journalist. In short, the bill protects us as journalists in all forms.

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