Conyers: Free the Bloggers!

Either Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) is looking to hire Marcos Zuniga to blog about his next campaign or he really does believe that bloggers should be classified as journalists.

In a column published on CNet today, Rep. Conyers stated that bloggers have shown they warrant First Amendment protection. He lists the following reasons:

  • Bloggers have become widely accepted as legitimate news gatherers and disseminators.
  • Columbia University’s Project for Excellence in Journalism reports that 32 million Americans are currently turning to blogs for their information.
  • Bloggers were granted press passes to both the Democratic and Republican national conventions last summer.
  • The White House recently approved the first blog press pass to a day’s gaggle

Then, the money shot:

Bloggers should be classified as journalists and given First Amendment protections based on the function they perform, not the form of their transmissions. Properly understood, the First Amendment applies to all those who report with journalistic integrity–offline or online.

OK, I’m gonna say it.

(Gulp)

(Ahem)

He’s right.

Yes, Democrat Representative John Conyers is right.

Not about First Amendment rights. Everyone is covered there – no matter who they are or what they say. I’m taking about bloggers being accepted as equals to those in the traditional media. Bloggers should be looked at no differently than those who report for the local hometown newspaper or the New York Times.

Did you catch the key phrase Conyers used?

“Journalistic Integrity”

In other words, responsibility. Bloggers have a responsibility, the same way a newspaper, radio, television, or magazine journalist has a responsibility. It’s simple really.

  • We must be factual.
  • We must be thorough.
  • We must disclose fully.
  • We must be ready and willing to correct ourselves.
  • We must be honest.

Citizen journalists must hold themselves to these standards. If we do not, we risk the legitimacy we seek. We will be refused the access we need. We will be a liability to the organizations, the groups, and the individuals we attempt to serve.  

We will be “second class” citizen journalists.

Bravo Mr. Conyers. For today, I’m willing to believe that you mean what you say, and I’ll be expecting your help in the weeks and months to come as this important decision is considered by your colleagues in the FEC.

UPDATE (3/31/05): Conyers has his own blog.

Comments

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