Josh Wolf, the San Francisco blogger and TV photographer who is sitting in a federal jail cell because he won’t give authorities a videotape he shot of a political protest, is taking issue with a couple of journalism profesors who questioned whether he was a “professional journalist.” Professors Karen Slattery and Mark Doremus argued in a piece they wrote for The Digital Journalist that for a shield law to work, there should be a test to determine who is a journalist and therefore worthy of a shield law’s protections. Here are a couple of quotes from Wolf’s response, published in this month’s Digital Journalist:
- “At best, the suggestion of narrowly defining who qualifies as a protected journalist will result in an elite class of professionals who work for mainstream media outlets, while reporters for the alternative press would be given no choice but to practice their craft without a net. More likely, I anticipate that this approach would establish a state-sanctioned journalist license, and anyone would be subject to having [his or] her license revoked should [he or] she stray from the party line. At worst, independent voices could be subject to prosecution for practicing journalism without a license.”
Wolf also sheds some light on his own case. He said that while the feds claim they want his videotape because it shows protesters burning a police car, he claims he didn’t capture the incident on tape. He also said that his lawyer offered to screen the complete tape for the judge, though he is refusing to surrender it to the grand jury. Apparently the judge refused the offer.