Last updated: May 4, 2010 - 8:18am
[Commentary] Jason Chen is a newsman. Or is he? That's just one question raised by the raid on Chen's California home by the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, which carted off some computers and other electronic equipment.
The search warrant appears to be the result of an investigation into whether Chen broke the law when he bought an iPhone prototype that an Apple engineer left in a bar where he was celebrating his birthday. Because Chen reported on the new iPhone for his website, Gizmodo.com, the seizure of his computers has renewed a heated debate about whether bloggers are real journalists. Traditionally, many in the mainstream press have disparaged bloggers, though in this case at least some press organizations -- including the parent company that runs Chen's blog -- argue that he is a full-time journalist whose home is his newsroom. The irony is how few connect Chen's First Amendment freedoms to those for corporations that were recently upheld in a landmark Supreme Court ruling. The larger point is that the best guarantee of good, independent journalism has always been the willingness of reporters and editors and publishers to run with the truth, protect their sources, and accept the consequences -- even jail, if it comes to that.
In short, we'll all be better served by a First Amendment that remains a fundamental right for all rather than a class privilege for some.
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