Tag Archive: blog


Legal Insurrection

My independent media professor invited William A. Jacobson, creator of conservative blog “Legal Insurrection,” to our class a few days ago. My own personal politics aside, it was refreshing to see a speaker with a different perspective than 95% of the Ithaca College campus welcomed into a classroom. The stereotypical Conservative is often looked at negatively, many for good reason – take Bill O’Reilly or other FoxNews stars, for example. The heart of Jacobson’s discussion was not to stuff his politics down our throats, but rather to explain what it takes to start up and maintain a successful blog, regardless of the content.

I was personally pleasantly surprised by Jacobson, who also serves as a law professor at Cornell University. I had checked out his blog prior to the class. He is open and transparent about his viewpoints and holds nothing back when discussing politics. For a journalist, I know less about politics than I maybe should. That is not to say that I’m completely ignorant, but I have a lot to learn and am quite undecided about several hot button issues. I find it helpful to look at issues from all perspectives, so I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from someone with a different viewpoint than many people I am surrounded with every day. I very well might vehemently appose what Jacobson is saying, but at least there is someone out there, who I can respect, saying it.

With journalism and technology changing simultaneously at a rapid pace, who IS a journalist these days? And who gets to decide?

The biggest controversy lies in the blogosphere. Are bloggers considered journalists? Should they be taken seriously? Christopher B. Daly raises these very issues by saying:

“Not surprisingly, most bloggers insist that they are journalists, entitled to equal rights with older media. Others disagree, saying bloggers are not journalists by any stretch. Recently, for example, Los Angeles Times media critic David Shaw argued that bloggers should not be considered journalists because they have no experience, they have no editors, and they have no standards.”

I pose a few arguments to Shaw’s points. Number one: How much experience do you need to speak the truth? Journalists who have years of training and experience lie to us all the time. I prove this point irrelevant.

Number two: bloggers have ten times the editors any corporate media has. If blogs are to be taken seriously, they need citations, they need links, they need attributions to validate their opinions. Therefore, editing is a click away. Don’t believe what a blogger has to say? Click on the link located dead center in the reporting and check it yourself. Bloggers are corrected instantly on any mistakes with a simple comment submitted by Joe Shmo. How often does the mainstream media issue corrections? Not nearly enough to make up for the number of mistakes they make daily.

Number three: Bloggers have no standards? Many are taking the effort to speak their mind on issues mainstream media outlets are blatantly ignoring. They at least have high enough standards to advocate for the truth.

Daly also addresses two tricky questions: should bloggers be protected by the first amendment or shield laws?

Aren’t all Americans protected by the first amendment? When an American becomes a blogger, do they lose their citizenship? Didn’t think so.

Shield laws are a bit trickier. They were designed to protect the right of journalists to keep their anonymous sources anonymous. When blogging started, most bloggers used the new medium as a way to vent their opinion to anyone who would listen. These days, however, blogging has shifted toward the realm of news and advocacy journalism, which require accurate sourcing. Bloggers like Josh Marshall, who are developing sources to provide us with valid truths should be protected by the same laws as any other journalist out there.

The debate about who is a real journalist will probably go on for as long as people practice journalism (which I hope is forever). Without new technology, we would still be distributing hand written pamphlets around town. So why punish those who are taking advantage of the advances of the medium? I say, more power to you!