Beltway Confidential

Dianne Feinstein: Reporter shield law should only apply to ‘real reporters’

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Beltway Confidential,Charlie Spiering,California,Analysis

Any protections from a proposed “shield law” might depend on the salary of journalist involved, if Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has her way.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday, Feinstein proposed an amendment to the bill that would make the law only apply to journalists she described as “real reporters.”

The amendment defines “real reporters” as “a salaried agent” of a media company such as a newspaper, broadcast news station, news website or another type of news service.

According to the Associated Press, Feinstein said she was concerned that “the current version of the bill would grant a special privilege to “people who aren’t really reporters at all, who have no professional qualifications.”

In other words, Feinstein is trying to exempt individuals who report and/or analyze the news on blogs or web sites not hosted by “real” media organizations from the protections of her proposal.

That is a distinction that is not recognized by the First Amendment, but is analogous to protectionist measures often found at the state and local level in which having a certain credential is required to practice a profession or offer a service in a jurisdiction.

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