Senator’s Attempt to Define ‘Real Journalism’ Blasted By Journalists

Common Dreams – by Sarah Lazare

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) says a bill protecting reporters and their sources should only apply to ‘real journalists,’ declaring that WikiLeaks employees, and nonsalaried reporters, don’t count.

The “shield law” under debate in the Senate Judiciary Committee would protect journalists and their confidential sources from court orders and subpoenas.  

Feinstein criticized the language of the bill Thursday, declaring she was “very disappointed” that the law contained a “flawed definition” of journalists—which she says is inclusive of WikiLeaks and nonsalaried reporters. “I’m concerned this would provide special privilege to those who are not reporters at all,” she exclaimed, according to a statement released by her staffers to Common Dreams. Feinstein and Senator Dick Durbin (D – Ill.) are demanding changes to the bill’s definition of journalists that reflect these concerns.

As the bill faces a third attempt at passage, after two previous failures, Thursday saw debate in the Senate Judiciary Committee over the definition of journalists and whether unpaid reporters should have the same protections as paid ones. While all parties agreed that WikiLeaks should be excluded from protection, some insisted the language already stipulates that exclusion.

“The world has changed. We’re very careful in this bill to distinguish journalists from those who shouldn’t be protected, WikiLeaks and all those, and we’ve ensured that,” said Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y). “But there are people who write and do real journalism, in different ways than we’re used to. They should not be excluded from this bill.”

The debate comes amid a chilling climate for journalists and their sources who cross US power. Bradley Manning was found guilty Tuesday of over 20 counts including espionage and is facing a potential 136 years in jail for revealing documents to WikiLeaks that exposed US human rights abuses and corruption across the world.

“It is dangerous to rely on only those sources the government deems worthy of protection,” said Nathan Fuller, writer for the Bradley Manning Support Network. “WikiLeaks is a serious news publication: it edits material and protects sources. Wikileaks has anonymous submissions because it knows its contacts don’t get protection.”

The bill advances following a May scandal in which Justice Department officials were publicly exposed for seizing phone records of AP reporters without due process or notice and monitoring communications of a Fox News reporter.

Meanwhile, journalists expressed outrage at Feinstein’s denigration of unpaid reporters in a climate where journalism jobs are quickly disappearing and independent, and often unpaid, reporting plays a key role in exposing the truth and holding power accountable. Author andNation reporter Jeremy Scahill tweeted the following response:

Sen. Feinstein wants to define who’s a “real” reporter. OK. Let’s talk about who is a “real” lawmaker.

7 thoughts on “Senator’s Attempt to Define ‘Real Journalism’ Blasted By Journalists

  1. The Conservatives here in CA tried voting out Comrade Feinstein several times, but it seems they are outnumbered.

    . . .

  2. When can we hang this BITCH.
    I am so sick of seeing her fugly face and hearing her regurgitated bullshit.
    Her and her husband are both criminals selling us out for their personal profit.

    1. JGO, Feinstein is just your typical politicion. They are all there to be bought off to the highest bidder and to seel the people out. They all live by a different set of rules than the rest of us do.

  3. They don’t want to protect Journalists. They want to identify them and control them. How do you best do that? With money. What good is an “independent” Journalist to a corrupt political society if you can’t control him/her? They’re need to “control” is off the charts and so far out of the realm of the Constitution. The government has been spying on us since at least the 70’s which I can give testimony. Admittedly, it’s just so much simpler to murder Journalists but, like the John Hinkley, Jr. fiasco, you can only murder/incarcerate/demoralize/spy on so many “threats to the political quo” before people begin to question it. Like Hinkley, (Reagan’s shooter), you have to come up with alternative method of Sheeple mind control. Label them “insane,” “serial killers.” Now, it’s “Unpaid journalists” *g* Pathetic.

  4. Anybody can be a journalist. If you have information, photos etc. & a keyboard you can be one. Being paid is no requirement as magazines, newspapers are disappearing left and right. They want FEAR to stop info from leaking. This is another anti-whistleblower bill.

  5. “The world has changed. We’re very careful in this bill to distinguish journalists from those who shouldn’t be protected, WikiLeaks and all those, and we’ve ensured that,” said Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y).”

    So obviously this bill is intended only for the benefit of those who write favorably about Big Brother.

    Feinstein, do us all a favor and drop dead. I’d be more than happy to come pay my respects, were you to do so.

    By pissing on your grave, you commie b#tch.

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