March 23, 2002
Dumb Question: Are We 'The Press'?

Maybe the answer to this is obvious, but I haven't seen it discussed in the Blogosphere, so I'm wondering:

Will campaign finance reform (I refuse to capitalize the words) affect bloggers in any way? Everyone says that 'the press' will become much more powerful, as they are allowed to do what they want while just about every other actor in the political arena is limited or silenced. But what about blogs? Will the new grassroots media also become relatively more powerful? Will we be able to say whatever we want, as long it's not coordinated with political parties or paid for by someone else (fat chance of that)? Or will we be threatened with jail if we express our opinions on electoral matters within 60 days of an election or 30 days of a primary?

This brings me to a related question that's been bugging me for years. Why do some people think they can call themselves 'professional journalists'? Journalism will never be a profession as long as the First Amendment survives, which means at least until next November. Professions have professional standards, and those who do not meet them can be, and often are, expelled. (Not often enough, but that's another story.) Lawyers are disbarred, priests defrocked, doctors have their medical licenses lifted, and so on. When that happens, they are compelled to go into some other line of work, at least until they can get the expulsions lifted. But freedom of the press means that no one can have his journalism license lifted, because legally enforceable journalism licenses are unconstitutional. Even if every newspaper and magazine in America refuses to hire you, you can still start your own, like I. F. Stone's Biweekly -- though more sensible, I hope. In fact, with the Internet, anyone can be I. F. Stone, going off and starting his own little journal and attracting readers without any help from the big guys. Of course, making money is still a problem.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at March 23, 2002 10:00 PM