Do bloggers have to disclose their sources?

The New Jersey Supreme Court has accepted a case in which it will decide whether a person posting comments on the Internet has to disclose the source of the posted information.
In Too Much Media, LLC v. Hale, 413 N.J. Super. 135, (App. Div. 2010), certif. granted, Too Much Media, LLC v. Hale, 203 N.J. 433 (2010), a woman sought protection under the NJ Shield Law, N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-2, which protects journalist from disclosing their confidential sources. The woman claims that, like a paid journalist, she was investigating a newsworthy matter and reporting her findings via a posting on an Internet bulletin board. The Appellate Division found that she was not investigating and reporting news and therefore, was not protected by the Shield Law. It stated in part,

“Simply put, new media should not be confused with news media. There is, of necessity, a distinction between, on the one hand, personal diaries, opinions, impressions and expressive writing and, on the other hand, news reporting. The transmission or dissemination of a “message” through the new medium of the Internet, or the display of one’s content or comment thereon, does not necessarily entitle the author or writer to the same protection as a “newsperson.” Although any attempt at defining “news” would ultimately prove illusory, some delimiting standards must pertain lest anyone with a webpage or who posts materials on the Internet would qualify.”

Too Much Media, LLC v. Hale, 413 N.J. Super. at 154-5 (App. Div. 2010)

This matter is now being reviewed by the NJ Supreme Court, which should issue its ruling sometime this term.

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