Judge rules Union County blogger is protected by the state’s shield law
By Tom Haydon
on April 12, 2013 at 6:39 PM, updated April 12, 2013 at 9:57 PM
ELIZABETH — In a decision that could impact bloggers across New Jersey, a Superior Court judge ruled today that a self-declared citizen watchdog who writes stinging critiques of Union County government has the same legal protections as a professional journalist.
While questioning the quality and tone of the writing in Tina Renna’s blog posts, Judge Karen Cassidy concluded Renna “obtained material in the course of professional newsgathering activities” with the aim of disseminating it over the internet.
As such, Cassidy wrote in her opinion, Renna should be covered by the state’s shield law. Under that law, one of the most powerful of its kind in the country, journalists generally cannot be forced to reveal their sources or other sensitive information to law enforcement or grand juries.
This is LONG overdue! Despite self-interested pols’, “journalists’” and MSM corporations’ protestations, bloggers are much more like what the writers of the USC were familiar with (just for fun, find out who “Silence Dogood” was). Right now, some of the best coverage of stories - especially stories the MSM won’t cover because the stories mess with their cherished partisan narratives - is being done by bloggers who don’t work for MSM corporations and don’t have J-School degrees. Such bloggers are bypassing MSM spikings, forcing the MSM to correct egregious falsehoods, shaming the MSM into covering stories they don’t want to cover, and are forcing business model changes on the MSM. There are conspiracy-theorists and other nutcases “out there” too, as there were in the 18th Century when the 1st Amendment was written. The writers of the USC accepted that and tacitly gave Americans the right and responsibility to sort out fact from fiction.