Can bloggers be considered journalists? That question was addressed recently when an appeals court held that bloggers should be considered members of the media for the purposes of defamation law. This is another step being taken to ensure the protection of acts of journalism, whether by recognized members of the media or by individuals who have taken on the responsibility of reporting through the web.

In the fairly short history of blogging, we have seen some real contributions to journalism made by bloggers. For example, Glenn Greenwald has not only been breaking news stories, he’s won a Pulitzer Prize for doing so. Of course, not all bloggers are breaking news stories and providing the level of reporting one would expect from a media outlet, but shouldn’t those reporting news be treated as the media when it comes to judicial protection?

“Yes” seems to be the latest answer from the courts, as the appeals court noted that many blogs and bloggers tend to fall within the broad reach of media and in doing so should qualify as a media defendant when it comes to defamation.

Trylon SMR has been following this topic closely for many years, and in fact we were the first PR firm to identify blogs as legitimate news channels for PR (see our PSRA article on approaching bloggers from 2002). As noted in our article, many bloggers are professional journalists using this medium as another way to convey newsworthy information.

Ultimately, everyone is protected under the First Amendment, whether one is a trained journalist or simply an individual expressing their opinion. This has been validated repeatedly by appeals courts, who have noted that the institutional press should have no greater protection under the law than any ordinary citizen.