Document Type


Publication Date



When a computer and a connection to the Internet allow almost anyone to claim to be a journalist, the question of who should be covered by media shield laws becomes especially difficult. Based on the premise that it is important to preserve the journalist's privilege and to accommodate the "unmedia" if that can be done without undermining journalism's values, this article suggests that the best way to limit the journalist's privilege is not to define "who is a journalist?" or "what is news?" Instead, the privilege should extend protection to anyone who is engaged in the work process of journalism.

Drawing on the profession's standards, the article proposes that an individual is "engaged in journalism" when the writer is involved in a process that is intended to generate and disseminate truthful information to the public on a regular basis. The article identifies key elements of the newsgathering process that can be judged objectively, and without undue intrusion into the editorial process, no matter who uses them or in what medium.

Publication Citation

39 Hous. L. Rev. 1371 (2003)