Last week a federal judge ruled a blogger, Crystal Cox, was not a journalist and not subject to first amendment protections. I haven’t been following the case very closely, but was a little concerned about the precedent and the liability for people like me who blog.
Reading some of the articles on the case, though, I’m less worried. This isn’t a blogger making some statements. Instead, Ms. Cox acted more like a stalker and harasser than a reporter. The judge even concluded that had she been granted protection as a journalist it was unlikely she could prevail as there was little factual basis for her statements.
Others have done better summaries of the case and the effect and I encourage everyone to read them.
I also discourage folks from applying this ruling to all bloggers. It’s not clear she was doing anything journalistic. I did find it interesting that some of her techniques to ruin the lawyer’s search results were defined as Search Engine Optimization. I’ve long thought SEO was akin to spam: say something often enough in enough places and you start to dominate the conversation. Not because you have anything useful to say, but because no one can get an idea in otherwise.