Amateur news gathers rights

A judge ruled yesterday that amateur news gatherers now have the same rights as professional journalists. The focus of the case was on freedom of speech issues, but does this ruling mean that access apply to the ever coveted confidentiality of sources? (state-by-state account of confidentiality laws)

This could be the precident for the future legal rights of amateur journalists. How much faster would the Enron scandal have broken if internals or friends of internals could be protected under local shield laws? How about Watergate? The barriers to free information flow will dissappear when everyone has the right to protect confidentiality, but so will the legal system’s ability to garner witnesses. I guess we’ll have to wait until these rights are called into question to find out.

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