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Federal judge rules bloggers not journalists

A federal judge in Oregon has ruled that a Montana woman sued for defamation was not a journalistwhen she posted online that an Oregon lawyer acted criminally during a bankruptcy case, a decision with implications for bloggers around the country.

Crystal L. Cox, a blogger from Eureka, Mont., was sued for defamation by attorney Kevin Padrick when she posted online that he was a thug and a thief during the handling of bankruptcy proceedings by him and Obsidian Finance Group LLC.

U.S. District Judge Marco Hernandez found last week that as a blogger, Cox was not a journalist and cannot claim the protections afforded to mainstream reporters and news outlets.

Although media experts said Wednesday that the ruling would have little effect on the definition of journalism, it casts a shadow on those who work in nontraditional media since it highlights the lack of case law that could protect them and the fact that current state shield laws for journalists are not covering recent developments in online media.

Caveat: I am not only a fourth generation lifelong resident of Bend (Oregon), the focus of this case, but a University of Montana graduate who has lived in Eureka (Montana) and firmly believes we need a wall – from Eureka California to Eureka Montana!. Cascadia, it’s inevitable.

  • So Fox News is protected but Juan Cole isn’t? This is ludicrous.

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