A New Jersey appeals court on Thursday affirmed a lower court’s ruling that said a libel defendant could not use the reporter’s shield law because not all bloggers are journalists, and the defendant was not engaged in journalism.
The plaintiff, Too Much Media, sued Shellee Hale in New Jersey after she posted comments stating that the company, which works with websites in the adult entertainment industry, was profiting from a security breach in its program.
Like the lower court, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court found that although Hale kept a blog, she was not engaged in newsgathering and dissemination at the time she made the postings — and therefore not protected by the shield law. New Jersey courts have frequently said that not all disseminators are newsgatherers and that although some electronic-only information qualifies as news reporting, not all of it does.
“Simply put, new media should not be confused with news media. There is, of necessity, a distinction between, on the one hand, personal diaries, opinions, impressions and expressive writing and, on the other hand, news reporting,” the opinion read.