Say what? A blogger? A blogger is worthy of “equal credentials with the traditional press?” And so comes the good news, and the bad.
The fact that Judge Biggers gave Tom Freeland of folo the time of day is big. This is a recognition that blawgs exist and, maybe, just maybe, carry sufficient weight to make it onto the radar. Given the general view that the blawgosphere is the home of lunatic rantings of people with too much time on their hands, recognition like this is an important first step to legitimacy for those who earn it with their thoughtful and incisive coverage of significant legal events and issues.
But now the bad news. Judge Biggers recognizes Tom Freeland because of his “exceptionally thorough, energetic and accurate in his writings on this case.” Now if a blawg is anything close to the equivalent of the traditional press, what gives Judge Biggers the right to pass judgment on the quality of the blawg before deigning to recognize it as worthy? If a judge thinks the New York Times’ coverage of a case sucks, can he deny the rag access as being unworthy? Not on your life.
The exercise of the First Amendment freedom of the press does not depend on meeting the approval of a judge as to the worthiness of reporting. He doesn’t have to like it, admire it or consider it particularly energetic. It doesn’t have to meet any judges’ approval. But apparently, not so for blawgs.
So while Judge Biggers has ordained folo worthy of traditional press treatment, he has made clear that such an honor is a privilege, not a right. Only if a blawg meets the judge’s standards will it receive such a concession, which means that any blawg that doesn’t will wallow in the gutter of the practical blawgosphere.
NY Criminal Defense Blog