Here's another example of how legislators are struggling to deal with a new reality where everyone can publish:
CNET reports (via Robin Hamman) that The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee has approved an amended version of the Free Flow of Information Act. The revised bill attempts to exclude the "casual blogger" from the right to protect confidential sources by stipulating the protections apply only to those who derive "financial gain or livelihood" from the journalistic activity... That broad rule could, however, include part-time writers who receive even a trickle of revenue from Google Ads or Blogads.com.
The bill defines the practice of journalism as "gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public."
"To extend the shield beyond (those who gain financial benefit) would create an avenue for virtually anyone to avoid compelled testimony by simply creating a blog that contains the information in question"...
This amended version of the act is problematic for a number of reasons, do read the text in full. Linking source protection to whether or not you use your blog as a vehicle to earn money misses the point completely. First and foremost because blogging often is a labour of love, and more often than not an indirect way of earning money.
This law proposal is applying old world thinking, equating the motives of mass media with those of bloggers, to a landscape that simply doesn't fit with that model of the world anymore. What if a blogger reveals something important in the ways of government or corporate misconduct, but has no ads on his or her blog, or no financial gain in sight? What of the Dr. Stockmans of this world?
Sometimes people will go to great lengths to expose issues just because they care, and in this brave new world of ours they can, via blogs, YouTube, or whichever preferred channel, unmediated. What if it was never the explicit aim of the blogger to cover this issue indepth, it just sort of happened, and perhaps led to various article or book commissions – which is very often what happens with successful niche bloggers, why it's an indirect rather than direct source of income...