Eat The Press

Josh Wolf.jpg


Freelance journalist and blogger Josh Wolf was jailed yesterday for refusing to release a videotape he took at a protest and after refusing to testify before a grand jury.

Wolf, 24, was taken into custody yesterday and "could be imprisoned until next summer, when the grand jury term expires, said his lawyer, Jose Luis Fuentes."

The investigation is related to violence at a protest last July in San Francisco wherein demonstrators and police clashed and an officer's skull was fractured, a smoke bomb was released and arson was suspected. Though Wolf posted some video to his website and sold some to a local TV station he has refused to turn over the raw footage, claiming journalistic privilege. .California has a state journalistic shield law but there is no such federal law, and this case came before the Federal District Court.

Unlike Judith Miller, Wolf is not represented by Floyd Abrams and does not have Pinch Sulzberger standing by at the ready with a martini and a massage. An excellent point is made by Jane Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota: "There is a tendency on the part of the prosecutors to go aggressively after people not perceived to have a big gun behind them... They are the most vulnerable links in the chain."

Oh and how's this for charming: Bail was denied. This is according to Josh's mom, who posted on his blog yesterday: "Although the July 20th hearing seemed promising, today the judge, Judge Alsop ruled against all motions including 5th amendment rights, rights coming under freedom of the press, against bail or a stay." Somehwat ironically, Wolf's blog is called "The Revolution Will Be Televised."

So, a 24-year old blogger-freelancer is in jail today in the name of journalistic principles. Who's the amateur now, Nick Lemann?

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