Wednesday, October 2, 2013

'Hi, I'm with the government; I'm here to help

A vision of a totalitarian future
Three Roads to “Journalist” that All Go Nowhere
An amendment to S.B. 987 that defines who is and is not a journalist
Feinstein’s amendment effectively advances a traditional vision of journalism through the three definitions of journalist that it provides, each of which requires that a person be affiliated with a journalistic “entity” or institution (including news websites and other digital news services, and other periodicals distributed digitally).
Specifically, the amendment requires that a journalist meet one of the following definitions:
1) working as a “salaried employee, independent contractor, or agent of an entity that disseminates news or information;”
2) either (a) meeting the prior definition “for any continuous three-month period within the two years prior to the relevant date” or (b) having “substantially contributed, as an author, editor, photographer, or producer, to a significant number of articles, stories, programs, or publications by an entity . . . within two years prior to the relevant date;” or
3) working as a student journalist “participating in a journalistic publication at an institution of higher education.” (emphases added)
There are problems with each of these three definitions. First, as we pointed out in our critique of the bill, requiring that an individual is “salaried” is problematic because many people do journalism but do not do it as their primary source of income. Further, it is entirely unclear who or what an “agent” or “entity” is.
Second, for an individual to fall under the second, seemingly looser criteria, that individual must have distributed the news “by means of an entity.” (emphasis added) While this definition may cover freelancers, it is again unclear what it means to have “substantially contributed” to a “significant” amount of work of an “entity.”
What does all this mean? Who knows? Compared to the language of the first amendment, it's a bunch of gobbledegook, intentionally vague and abstruse in the extreme. Compare: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
What is likely is not pretty to think about. You will get the information the U.S. Government wants you to get, and no other.
- The Legendary

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