Feinstein’s Media Shieldless Law … to Quiet Her Critics

CERDAFIED - California Democrat U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is the very symbol of our governments power grab.  As chairwoman of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee she can rationalize spying on every American to prevent a terrorist act that may or may not be a red flag operation of our government.  Feinstein Interview here.  

 

She not only wants to spy on you, she wants to quiet the voice of her critics. Not the corporate media, that voice is quieter than a church mouse, no… the non-paid voices of journalism.  You know who they are. They are the American voices yelling from every blog, website, leaflet, and bell tower. 

Franken Feinstein proposed an amendment to a media shield law meant to protect journalists from prosecution for what they say or write, and to protect their confidential sources.  Her amendment gives a vague definition of a journalist and it limits who should be protected by the media shield law. 

Ken Bunting, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition at the Missouri School of Journalism, takes great exception to her amendment. “It rubs me the wrong way that the government thinks it should be in the business of determining who should be considered a journalist.” 

The U.S. Justice Department has recently and more frequently tried to force journalists to reveal their confidential sources. With their new emphasis on government leaked sources like WikiLeaks, how will a journalist protect their source when only 40 states offer shield law protection and the Federal government does not? This leaves whistle blowers unprotected. Where would we be with out whistleblowers? 

The First Amendment of the U.S Constitution proclaims that the right to a free press “shall not be infringed.” But in actuality the first coup in America was a corporate takeover of America and our not-so-free press. 

So when Time Warner got in a dispute with CBS over a cost increase, people really couldn’t give a hoot. Yes, Time Warner, please save us from the higher costs of corporate lies. Yawn! This would have been unthinkable in the 80’s because CBS had less competition and viewers had more faith in its news station. 

Some might say it is difficult to write a good shield law because it’s hard to define a journalist. Being paid isn’t the only criteria. There are many truth seekers who have fled paying jobs in journalism to seek real freedom in their writing. This includes editors and the like. 

The amendment offered by Feinstein to S. 987 requires that a journalist meet one of the following definitions: 

  • A “salaried employee, independent contractor, or agent of an entity that disseminates news or information;”
  • either (a) meeting the prior definition “for any continuous three-month period within the two years prior to the relevant date” or (b) having “substantially contributed, as an author, editor, photographer, or producer, to a significant number of articles, stories, programs, or publications by an entity . . . within two years prior to the relevant date;” or
  • working as a student journalist “participating in a journalistic publication at an institution of higher education.” (emphases added) 

These VAGUE and easy to misinterpret descriptions that I underlined, do not offer protection, in fact they obscure it. They leave the bloggers and citizen writers out to dry. Her traditional viewpoint of journalism does not take into account the rapidly changing world of the internet. The many forms of journalism must be protected.  Anyone engaged in the “Act of Journalism” should be protected. 

Protection should be extended to those engaged in the filming of a public event, including government officials, public servants, military personnel, and/or common citizens engaged in crimes.  The rights to those pictures and films should remain with the photographer/citizen.  This is particularly important in the face of such blatant abuse of power and force that Americans are facing everyday. 

The hypocrisy of our government, who engages in extensive spying on its citizens, knows no bounds. It seeks to criminalize citizens for filming misconduct of our government officials.  When it should be rewarded! YES, rewarded. 

In today’s technological revolution, the face of journalism has changed.  You can not stem the tide or artificially limit the market place of journalism. It is an act of cowardice to do so.

 

(Lisa Cerda is a contributor to CityWatch, a community activist, Chair of Tarzana Residents Against Poorly Planned Development, VP of Community Rights Foundation of LA, Tarzana Property Owners Association board member, and former Tarzana Neighborhood Council board member.)

-cw

 

 

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 11 Issue 70

 

 

 

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