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17 May 2012

Introducing the Blogger Shield Bill

Since the explosion of blogs and other new media, in recent years, there have been questions of whether the people operating these publications qualify for protections under various shield laws across the nation.

Journalists working for mainstream media outlets such as CNN and USA Today are protected from revealing the sources used to produce a story appearing in print or on television. Bloggers and other new media, however, fall into a murky gray area.

Certainly blogs and other new media are engaged in the gathering and dissemination of news for the public. On Georgia Politics Unfiltered, Blog for Democracy, and countless other sites, news for the public has been published. In many cases, news for the public originally appearing on blogs and other new media have crossed over to the mainstream media for dissemination to an even wider audience.

Despite all of this, though, blogs and new media still fall into a murky gray area regarding protection from revealing their sources on a story.

That's why, through research and consultation with other bloggers, I've crafted a new bill to level the playing field.

The Blogger Shield Bill (posted below) is a simple, one-page bill that says any person, company, or other entity engaged in the gathering and dissemination of news for the public shall have a qualified privilege against disclosure of any information, document, or item obtained or prepared in the gathering or dissemination of news.

Blogger Shield Bill

The Blogger Shield Bill no longer requires a person to be tied to a news organization in order to be afforded shield law protections.

The Blogger Shield Bill gives any person, regardless of whether that person works for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution or runs an independent website like Peach Pundit, a qualified privilege not to disclose their sources on any story appearing in their publication.

I think the Blogger Shield Bill is a good, solid piece of legislation. I'm hopeful state legislators will fast track this legislation so Governor Deal can sign it into law in 2013.