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HawaiiReporter Case to Test Free Speech Rights

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  • HawaiiReporter Case to Test Free Speech Rights

    This has been brewing for a few weeks now, but the following article brings the spotlight to this case that could have an impact on online journalists, blogging and possibly a whole lot more.

    Pflueger case to test protection of blogs

    An isle Internet writer claims a journalist's standard for secrecy

    A LAWYER trying to get an Internet writer to testify and turn over notes for a court case says Web bloggers should not have the same rights as mainstream reporters.

    Attorney William McCorriston, in a lawsuit brought by landowner James Pflueger over the failure of the Ka Loko Dam, claims that Malia Zimmerman of Hawaiireporter.com is a blogger who is not entitled to withhold her sources of information.

    But Zimmerman, an editor and reporter for the Web site, says she is a legitimate journalist, not just some hack who offers half-baked commentary on the news of the day.

    "Any journalist who gives their word that they'll protect somebody's information or keep them in confidence, you have to abide by that," Zimmerman said. "It's not the medium you publish in, it's what you do with that information."

    Circuit Judge Gary Chang has ordered Zimmerman to submit to questioning under oath by McCorriston, likely in June. She can refuse to answer questions, but she must explain her reasons for doing so, and the judge would later rule on whether she is justified.

    Hawaii does not have a journalist shield law, like those enacted in 31 states to protect reporters' rights to keep their sources confidential.
    Additional Links

    Keep the discussion focused on the case and free speech rights as pertaining to journalists whether regardless if they are print, electronic or internet media and how far the law should go to protect everyday people such as "citizen journalists" or bloggers.

    Also is HawaiiReporter and online newspaper or a blog?
    I'm still here. Are you?

  • #2
    Re: HawaiiReporter Case to Test Free Speech Rights

    First of all, I think it's important to note that The Advertiser and The Star-Bulletin carried this story at all. How could they not? The Internet is here to stay. Thrive, adapt, or perish. Who says you need to kill a stand of trees to be a legitimate journalist?
    I used to work with Malia at Pacific Business News. One thing you can say about Malia, she's got cahones and she's not afraid to use them. As an independent journalist, she has an agenda, which makes her not exactly an impartial news reporter, but more of an editorial writer. But she is dogged and she digs, latches on, and refuses to let go. Her determination is matched by her loyalties. In this case sources she doesn't want to reveal for fear that her opponents would sue them. (Apologies but I can't get the link to today's story at The Advertiser).
    Despite the cold shoulders and the name calling Malia has endured to pursue her calling, despite big bodies in this town hell bent on destroying her and pronouncing that she'll never write in this town, she does. Other journalists owe Malia a big high five for taking a huge hit in the name of digital journalism. Because if she prevails, we all benefit. She isn't just doing this for herself or her sources, but for every journalist who files a story electronically, for those of us who work in our bunny slippers at all hours of the day.

    Is Hawaii Reporter a blog or a newspaper? I believe it's a blog. Newspapers and magazines are all building a web presence because there is value in the revenues and the reach in readers. People access such sites via their PDAs and their cellular phones because they want to know what's happening when it happens. The single goal of blogs and of online offshoots of the traditional press is the need to communicate. A blog can be anything: personal, offensive, legitimate, scandalous, truthful. It is a beautiful thing that we can all decide where we want to read, what we want to read, and to decide whether we want to return and read more.
    Last edited by lavagal; May 22, 2007, 09:00 AM.
    Aloha from Lavagal

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: HawaiiReporter Case to Test Free Speech Rights

      Originally posted by lavagal View Post
      First of all, I think it's important to note that The Advertiser and The Star-Bulletin carried this story at all. (...) Apologies but I can't get the link to today's story at The Advertiser.
      Here it is: today's Advertiser story about Malia Zimmerman.

      .
      .

      That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: HawaiiReporter Case to Test Free Speech Rights

        But Zimmerman, an editor and reporter for the Web site, says she is a legitimate journalist, not just some hack who offers half-baked commentary on the news of the day.
        I think Zimmerman would have little trouble proving that she is a journalist, with her resume, and I agree with her assessment that the medium is less relevant than what is done with the information. However, I dislike her "hack who offers half-baked commentary" way of referring to bloggers. I can find half-baked commentary by overpaid hacks in just about every print newspaper in the nation.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: HawaiiReporter Case to Test Free Speech Rights

          Originally posted by lavagal View Post
          A blog can be anything: personal, offensive, legitimate, scandalous, truthful. It is a beautiful thing that we can all decide where we want to read, what we want to read, and to decide whether we want to return and read more.
          Yes! A Blog can be anything the Blogger wants it to be!

          I am not a Journalist. I am a BLOGGER!

          Something from the past from Lynn's Lair I
          Why do people Blog?

          "I can still remember sending in the online information on why I wanted to blog to Web Master, Ryan Ozawa. I had no prior experience to anything. My forte is Public Speaking. Punctuations, use of bold and other enhancements have been learned by trials and errors. I still am not able to post a picture due to my own stupidity.

          I have openly shared my life honestly. I have put my aching heart and sorrows for everyone to read. My ups and downs. Yes, even about the times I was addicted to cocaine, four years clean this September. My fight against Drugs and Illegal activities because of that… and what ICE did to Mark. The most intriguing…my own affliction having Mental Illness.

          When I started to Blog, I didn’t know the actual meaning of the word. All I knew, I wanted to write like I never wrote before.
          (continued http://www.auntiepupule.com/blog/index.php?id=1030)

          Auntie Lynn
          Last edited by 1stwahine; May 22, 2007, 10:17 AM.
          Be AKAMAI ~ KOKUA Hawai`i!
          Philippians 4:13 --- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: HawaiiReporter Case to Test Free Speech Rights

            If one must decide whether it's a blog or a newspaper, I choose newspaper. Zimmerman's entitled to treatment as a journalist, since that's MOSTLY the way she's conducted herself.
            But I'm disturbed! I'm depressed! I'm inadequate! I GOT IT ALL! (George Costanza)
            GrouchyTeacher.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: HawaiiReporter Case to Test Free Speech Rights

              So if Malia writes a news story and posts it on her internet site, it's not a news story? Just by the mere fact that it's posted on an internet site using software that stacks the stories one on top of the other, that disqualifies it as a news story?

              Of course, it's not a NEWSPAPER. No paper involved. But it is a NEWS STORY.

              The medium of delivery is inconsequential. If that were the only issue, Malia should just print out her web page, run it down to the local copy shop and make a few dozen copies to give away.

              Would that then make her news story legitimate, as it has now been committed to paper rather than pixels?

              No difference.

              People need to forget about the delivery method and look at the story as it was delivered, and they need to look at the content of the story. The questions that need to be asked all pertain to how the story's information was acquired, researched and delivered.

              Did Malia libel or slander anyone in presenting the story? Did she present unfounded accusations, or did she have facts and witnesses to back up the statements she made in her story.

              If she does have proof of her claims and she has not commited tort in her delivery, then she is a journalist.

              Whether she presented her journalism over the internet or on a printed page has no bearing.

              That's my grok, anyway.
              Well I am just a monkey man, I'm glad you are a monkey woman too.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: HawaiiReporter Case to Test Free Speech Rights

                Writing is the salve applied to the relentless mind to keep it healthy and thriving.
                FutureNewsNetwork.com
                Energy answers are already here.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: HawaiiReporter Case to Test Free Speech Rights

                  The Star-Bulletin weighs in: Internet journalist's sources should be kept confidential. (Hawaii Reporter is called an "a Hawaii news Web site and Malia an "Internet journalist.") Not sure if the Advertiser (or any of its many bloggers) have taken a stance yet.

                  I liked Doug White's summary of the case (though he clearly falls on the 'she's a blogger' side of the fence!). I blogged it as well, and hope other local bloggers do the same... because whatever Zimmerman calls herself and her site, her case is quite relevant to what we do.

                  Interestingly, when Googling around for some background, I ended up back at my own site. Google remembered, though I didn't, that I recorded a panel discussion featuring Malia, Burt Lum and I back in 2004. The Hawaii Community Media Council convened a session on "digital journalism." And even back then (when it was the Jennifer Toma Bainum flap), there were questions over what a blog is and isn't, and whether sites like Hawaii Reporter are "legitimate" media.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: HawaiiReporter Case to Test Free Speech Rights

                    Mine's up!

                    http://www.auntiepupule.com/blog/index.php?id=1042

                    Auntie Lynn
                    Be AKAMAI ~ KOKUA Hawai`i!
                    Philippians 4:13 --- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: HawaiiReporter Case to Test Free Speech Rights

                      Originally posted by scrivener View Post
                      If one must decide whether it's a blog or a newspaper, I choose newspaper. Zimmerman's entitled to treatment as a journalist, since that's MOSTLY the way she's conducted herself.
                      Having met Malia personally, I can say she is a nice person. As an educator, though, Scrivener, I have to question how you can judge the content of Zimmerman’s blog based solely on the professional conduct of the editor. I for one, would say her conduct is suspect, and most media professionals (and professors) would agree that her editorial slant undermines her credibility.

                      We can’t be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans.

                      — U.S. President Bill Clinton
                      USA TODAY, page 2A
                      11 March 1993

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: HawaiiReporter Case to Test Free Speech Rights

                        How can we find out more on making Hawaii the 32nd state to
                        protect its journalists whether they're reporting in print or
                        over the Internet? That is a fundamental right we need to uphold.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: HawaiiReporter Case to Test Free Speech Rights

                          The issue "Journalist vs. Blogger" will be the subject on "Island Insights" with Dan Boylan this coming Monday night, June 18 on PBS Hawaii (Channel 10 KHET) starting at 7:30 pm.

                          Island Insights
                          "Journalist vs. Blogger" — Hosted by Dan Boylan. Guests include Hawaii Reporter's Malia Zimmerman, attorney Jeffrey Portnoy, and criminal defense attorney Brook Hart.

                          Monday 7:30 pm
                          PBS Hawaii
                          I'm still here. Are you?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Hawaii Reporter Case to Test Free Speech Rights

                            I'm thinking that in the next 20 years, few of todays newspapers will actually still print on paper.

                            I suspect we'll all have "readers" that are book-sized and portable. The news will be downloaded to them.

                            The court should recognize this trend toward paperless. All of today's newspapers will be paper-free in our lifetimes. We'll be telling our grand kids about how, when we was young, paper boys used to throw the paper on our roofs! And we'd have to get the ladder our to download it!

                            If they use "paper" as a criteria for who is and who isn't a journalist, it will be a very short-lived legal precedent.

                            As an author, I'm looking at how this evolution will affect me. I'm spending almost ten grand this week to do my 4th printing. I anticipate one day, not having to do that.

                            Bob

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: HawaiiReporter Case to Test Free Speech Rights

                              eBook readers and similar devices are already on the market. They haven't exactly caught on yet, but I agree with the assessment that nearly all news will be bundled in an electronic format of some type leaving paper behind.

                              Ever tried wrapping fish, swatting flies or picking up dead cockroaches with HawaiiReporter? It can't be done. Might wreck the computer. The good old Star-Bulletin and Advertiser paper editions can still do that.
                              I'm still here. Are you?

                              Comment

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