Court denies bloggers journalists' shield

June 8, 2011 at 11:53 AM
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TRENTON, N.J., June 8 (UPI) -- Amateur bloggers cannot invoke journalists' shield protections, the New Jersey Supreme Court says.

In a unanimous decision Tuesday, the court decreed bloggers must be connected to "news media" to use the shield law that lets journalists keep their sources confidential, The (Newark) Star-Ledger reported.

"To ensure that the privilege does not apply to every self-appointed newsperson, the Legislature requires that other means of disseminating news be 'similar' to traditional news sources to qualify for the law's coverage," Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote. "We do not find that online message boards" qualify.

In 2008, Shellee Hale, a blogger from Washington state, posted comments on a message board saying Too Much Media LLC, a New Jersey software company, had threatened her sources and failed to report a security breach because it profited from stolen e-mail addresses. TMM, which helps pornographers track sales, sued for defamation and Hale sought the shield law's protection.

A private investigator and former Microsoft employee, Hale said she was preparing an article for her Web site,, about the spread of pornography on the Internet.

TMM said she was not a journalist and faked the purpose of her site to claim the shield.

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