Digital media continues to befuddle courts and push traditional legal boundaries.
When Montana blogger Crystal Cox lost her defamation case in 2011, the decision was greeted by a chorus of cheers from journalists, who were quick to argue that Cox wasn’t a journalist in any real sense of the word, and therefore didn’t deserve any protection from the First Amendment. An appeals court for the Ninth Circuit has disagreed, however: on Friday, a panel of judges overturned the original decision and said that Cox was in fact entitled to protection.
The implications of this ruling go beyond just a single defamation case. It’s another link in a chain of decisions that are gradually helping to extend the principle of free-speech protection beyond professional journalism to anyone who is publishing information with public value — and as such, it helps shift the focus away from trying to define who is a journalist and puts it where it should be: on protecting…
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