Adam Penenberg has an interesting commentary over on Wired.com today. He takes on the issue of whether bloggers should have the same right to protect their sources as traditional journalists enjoy. The protection of source thing is one of the hoariest old clichés associated with journalists, right up there with the notebook and pencil stub, the flash bulb going off, or the “Press” card stuck in the band of a fedora. In addressing this question, Peneberg trots out some of the newer but still hoary clichés of blogging, on both the pro-blog and anti-blog side of the fence, then concludes that the point is essentially moot—because those protections have been vanishing from even traditional journalists over the last few decades; even if bloggers were to get equal “protection,” that still wouldn’t be saying much.
It’s an interesting issue, the question of how web journalists compare to “real” journalists in terms of the protections they enjoy—yet another example of how fundamentally the Internet is changing our world. People used to say that “freedom of the press belongs to the person who owns one,” but thanks to the Internet and blogging, now everybody “owns a press.” Everybody has equal potential to be a “journalist,” equal potential to be read by people all over the country or even the world.
Interesting times indeed.