Bloggers are journalists?
In the news yesterday: A blogger who was dragged into court for calling a businessman a white collar criminal has been acquitted of libel. According to the court a blogger is a kind of journalist.
Actually he wasn't acquitted, the Court of Appeal ruled it could not judge a media related crime as it is not authorized to do so. So the first conviction was overturned.
Which leaves the business man with a choice: he can file his complaint again and then it will be tried by the Court of Assize. Which is rare, as press-related cases are very rarely tried before a jury. It just costs too much money to start up the procedure and magistrates are busy enough as it is with tons of other stuff.
So in a sense, what we should be looking at here is:
1) Why is a blogger seen as a journalist? Does that give him special powers? I think the blogger's lawyers 'don't shut up the freedom of the press'-line worked in this case, as the judge followed the same reasoning in his summing up.
Which is problematic at best, considering the context of the wording of the ruling isn't known. News outlets only copy the 'blogger is journalist' line. [Which, incidently, is something I'm doing too, just to direct a bit of traffic to my blog].
2) Why is this reported in media with the headline 'bloggers are journalists' when the judge clearly stated they are some kind of journalist. It is not the same. Anyway, the ruling isn't actually a ruling it has just dismissed the case, it will not have any impact irregardless if the lawyer of the defendant seems to think so. He is playing it up a bit me thinkst.
If the outcome was negative he would have got on his high horse and shouted that the freedom of speech had been tainted.
But in fact, the ruling from the first court seems correct to me and the judge in the Appeal Court played it safe.
If you are venting an opinion you are entitled to do so, but to publish it is something different.
Actually the plaintiff should prove, when bringing his case to court, he has actually suffered damage because of the alleged slander.
Now correct me if I'm wrong, but that is what I can remember from my media-ethics classes. It does not suffice to just go: 'I've been insulted'. That is how the stupid British Libel laws work. Not here.
I don't know the details of the original case but I'd like to find out.