We live in a country that prides itself on freedom – freedom of speech, religion and the press.
Americans take pride in what we have in this country today. Yes, it can easily be argued that those freedoms are eroding thanks to our government’s fear mongering, but for the most part, we do live in a very special place.
Journalism is considered the fourth estate, an institution with influence that goes unrecognized. It is set to check and monitor the government to make sure it follows the laws it has laid out and works for the best interests of the people.
So, you would think the last thing we need is the government defining who can and cannot monitor them, right?
Well, earlier this month, the government did just that.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a measure to define what a journalist is. This measure still has to pass the Senate and House.
The measure’s intent is to provide journalists with legal protection from federal prosecutors – a media shield law on the federal level. This comes from the recent events surrounding the
Department of Justice’s collection of information from the Associated Press. It sounds like a noble effort, but under the measure it sets out to define who and what a journalist is and isn’t.
Under this particular measure, a journalist is someone who works for an entity that disseminates the news. The caveat being that said journalist would have to have been employed for one year within the last 20 months or three months within the last five years.
According to the Associated Press, “It would apply to student journalists or someone with a considerable amount of freelance work in the last five years.” Of course, “a federal judge also would have the discretion to declare an individual a ‘covered journalist,’ who would be granted the privileges of the law.”
The definition “does not include any person or entity—whose principal function, as demonstrated by the totality of such person or entity’s work, is to publish primary source documents that have been disclosed to such person or entity without authorization.” Sorry to all the Julian Assanges in the world.
This brings us back to our freedoms, specifically the First Amendment, which is provided, in part, here: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”
“Congress shall make no law….” If Congress approves this measure, it would inherently be making a “law…prohibiting the free exercise thereof…of the press…” Congress cannot and should not define who and what a journalist is. It gives them too much power to protect themselves.
Congress is using fear to establish a law that gives them the power to abuse it. Congress and the media are oil and water – they can mingle in the same space, but never mix.
“Congress shall make no law….”
Apparently, Congress doesn’t care.
It's an opinion piece, you idiot.
Nay my Good Sir, Fuck you.
You're a joke.
God for bid an opinion piece be...wait...provocative...as ...
Wow, Eastern. Personally, I normally applaud the Echo ...