ARTICLE: Changing legal definitions of a journalist

Picture: Figures of Justice by Scott Robinson, license CC BY 2.0

Blogging and citizen journalism have blurred the definition of who is a journalist from a legal perspective. A new article by Jane Johnston of the University of Queensland and Anne Wallace of Edith Cowan University studies this issue.

The research examines how courts, legislators and policy makers are dealing with the challenges of redefining the concepts of “journalist” and “news media”. A lack of common ground for defining a journalist has resulted in “jurisdictional clashes, challenges to legislative amendments, appeals to higher courts, and confusion for regulators and practitioners alike”, the article states.

The study begins with a literature overview. The authors then analyses several court cases which illustrate the issue and explain judicial reasoning and legal frameworks in which the cases take place in. The article also looks at how news are produced from courts using live text-based communication (such as Twitter) and how jurisdictions have regulated this practice.

The definitions remain contested, but the research article finds that certain patterns for broader definitions are emerging.

The article “Who is a Journalist?” was recently published in Digital Journalism and is available online (free abstract).

Picture: Figures of Justice by Scott Robinson, license CC BY 2.0

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