A Panel Ruled That Bloggers Are Entitled To The Same Protections As Journalists.
Because Cox’s blog post addressed a matter of public concern, even assuming that Gertz is limited to such speech, the district court should have instructed the jury that it could not find Cox liable for defamation unless it found that she acted negligently. See Gertz, 418 U.S. at 350. The court also should have instructed the jury that it could not award presumed damages unless it found that Cox acted with actual malice. Id. at 349.
The “new media” obviously concerns many politicians like Feinstein, who show the same hostility to bloggers as her predecessors once showed to the media before New York Times v. Sullivan. While the issues are not identical between the torts doctrines and media shield laws, the ruling undermines the argument that there is a clear line between bloggers and conventional reporters in dealing with public disputes and allegations. We have still not resolved how to draw the line (if such a line is possible) between conventional and new media. What is significant is that this court is refusing to expose bloggers to the type of pre-Sullivan liability that would dramatically chill Internet speech.