Freedom of the Press: To Whom Does it Extend?

Eugene Volokh, a blogger himself, has a piece in today’s New York Times in which he mentions the Taricani case. However, of more importance is the larger question he seeks to address

Because of the Internet, anyone can be a journalist. Some so-called Weblogs – Internet-based opinion columns published by ordinary people – have hundreds of thousands of readers….The First Amendment can’t give special rights to the established news media and not to upstart outlets like ours. Freedom of the press should apply to people equally, regardless of who they are, why they write or how popular they are.

Volokh does point out the problem with this everybody-is-a-journalist atmosphere, namely, that anyone can leak anything to anyone who runs a blog and the blogger can cite the First Amendment for protection. Volokh concludes that this can lead to widespread violation of privacy and the like. I’m not sure where we are headed in these interesting times, but it seems as if technology will force us to expand our definition of exactly who is part of the Free Press.

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