The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled the state’s shield law, which allows journalists to protect the identity of confidential sources, does not apply to those who post to online message boards. Bloggers say they don’t feel threatened by the decision.
Brian McGovern, editor of the conservative political blog Save Jersey, said he believes bloggers using a website that disseminates information to the public are protected under the shield law, but he does have some concerns.
“It makes me a little worried, in a sense, that if we were to break a very controversial story that someone could try to come after us using this as some sort of precedent,” McGovern said. “However, I’m not really chilled by it at all. We’re going to keep pushing on with what we do at Save Jersey.”
Jay Lassiter, a blogger for the liberal website Blue Jersey, is also unfazed.
“I’m not sure that it would affect bloggers like me because I think that blog sites that resemble traditional outlets, have a rigorous editorial process, are much more likely to be able to protect their confidential sources,” he said.
New Jersey Press Association attorney Tom Cafferty expects there will be more court cases to determine which bloggers have shield law protections. He says the Legislature might also amend the statute to extend the scope of those protections.