Emptywheel nails what's so concerning about the new "news media" guidelines released late Friday by US Attorney General Eric Holder:
The First Amendment was written, in part, to eliminate the kind of official press that parrots only the King’s sanctioned views. But with its revised “News Media Policies,” DOJ gets us closer to having just that, an official press.
That’s because all the changes laid out in the new policy (some of which are good, some of which are obviously flawed) apply only to “members of the news media.” They repeat over and over and over and over, “news media.” I’m not sure they once utter the word “journalist” or “reporter.” And according to DOJ’s Domestic Investigation and Operations Guide, a whole slew of journalists are not included
in their definition of “news media.”
Perhaps, under these guidelines, the phone and email records of investigative reporters like the New York Times' James Risen or Fox News' James Rosen would be less likely targeted.
Blogs are explicitly identified as not being "news media," so, for instance, your faithful Boing Boing editors (who are journalists) wouldn't be covered. And the guidelines also specify what emptywheel rightly terms the “WikiLeaks exception.”
Ultimately, I think DOJ is so anxious for Congress to pass a shield law (which they say elsewhere in their report) because it’ll mean Congress will do the dirty work of defining who is and who is not a journalist.
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