Google Josh Wolf and the first citation is www.joshwolf.net. Josh Wolf's website. It's certainly not as famous as the Huffington Post or the New York Times, but essentially it's the same thing. It's a news outlet run by Josh Wolf.
Josh Wolf is the journalist who was locked up for refusing to provide a federal grand jury with outtakes of video footage he shot during a San Francisco demonstration against the G-8 meeting in Scotland. It's a federal case - and this is a stretch - because the grand jury is investigating damage to a San Francisco police car, a car apparently paid for, in part, with federal funds.
And since it's a federal case, the California shield law, which is designed to allow journalists to protect their sources, is not a factor in the case. Consequently, Josh Wolf was sent to federal prison for defying the grand jury. He's out on bail now, freed while he appeals. But he just lost the first round: a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is rejecting Wolf's insistence that it is his right as a journalist to withhold unpublished material.
Here's what the court said: "He simply videotaped what people did in a public place. Wolf does not claim that he filmed anything confidential nor that he promised anyone anonymity or confidentiality. Therefore, this case does not raise the usual concerns in cases involving journalists."
As Josh Wolf makes clear - and he is supported by journalists and journalism organizations across the country - if he supplies the demanded footage, he compromises his independence. Wolf says bowing to the grand jury would "have a chilling effect on myself, gaining access and trust with contacts, and have a chilling effect on journalists in general, knowing their information can be subpoenaed at any moment."
But it gets worse.
The federal appeals court judges stuck their noses into California's business with their ruling in the Josh Wolf case, dismissing the validity of the California shield law as it pertains to Wolf's claims, saying it wouldn't protect him because he isn't "a publisher, editor, reporter or other person connected with or employed upon a newspaper, magazine or other periodical publication, or by a press association or wire service.
Hello, First Amendment. Since when does the government define which of us Americans can properly define ourselves as journalists? Let's go over the pertinent wording of that sacred amendment again: "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."
Josh Wolf is a publisher, editor and reporter just based on the content at www.joshwolf.net. End of story.
As I wrote (as a self-defined journalist!) when Wolf was initially locked up: Josh Wolf may be the first blogger imprisoned for his journalism; he undoubtedly won't be the last. If we are all potentially journalists can there be a role for protections and privileges such as shield laws? Perhaps the First Amendment is all we ought to count on as journalists. No shield laws, no press cards, no free tickets to Disneyland from their "media services" department. If that were the case, then anyone really could be a journalist with all the rights that come with job. But if we're going to create a special class for the press, we've got a serious chore on our hands deciding who gets in the club and whom we exclude.
Josh Wolf addressed the issue when the court ruled against him, asking, "What is a journalist? There's no journalist license. The easiest way I can see of judging a journalist is whether his peers judge him to be a journalist."
Obviously the judges of the Ninth Circuit who ruled in his case think otherwise. They announced a de facto journalist's license with their outdated and inappropriate litany of criteria that they feel constitutes a legitimate journalist. By their ludicrous rules, neither the broadsiders of the American Revolution nor the bloggers of our era are journalists.
And those judges have no business defining the Fourth Estate.