Blogging and citizen journalism


The advent of the blog has made it easy for ordinary people to write about and publish their opinions on the news gathered by professional journalists. Blog publishing software has also made it possible for ordinary folks to publish original reporting, but because we're ordinary folks, we bloggers are usually not familiar with the legal issues involved in reporting and publishing.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a helpful and thorough "Legal Guide for Bloggers," which covers anti-SLAPP laws, intellectual property law, privacy rights, defamation, reporter's privilege, media access to public records and government meetings, election law, and labor law. In some cases where state laws vary, there are links to state-by-state information. (Hat tip: Sandhill Trek, via the Media Bloggers Association mailing list.)

On the other side of the traditional journalism / blogger divide, mainstream media outlets are just beginning to explore how to make citizen journalism a part of what they do. Steve Outing has put together an 11-layered hierarchy of citizen journalist involvement in traditional media, with links to examples of each layer. The lowest level of the hierarchy is allowing readers to comment on news articles on the web, much the same way readers comment on blogs. Bluffton Today is an example of a newspaper at the higher end of the hierarchy -- using reader-submitted online content to drive the content of the daily print edition. Smart publishers of traditional newspapers will eventually realize they have more to gain by opening themselves up to collaboration with citizen journalists and the online world than by walling themselves off. (Hat tip: Bob Cox at The National Debate.)

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on June 15, 2005 10:41 PM.

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