Wednesday, March 26, 2008


A DOG BY ANY OTHER NAME or HERE FIDO- ER, I MEAN, IRVING: According to the Associated Press’ Mark Niesse, Jeff Portnoy, numero-uno attorney to the mainstream press in Hawai`i, is about to sell the State’s bloggers down the river to keep protections for his corporate bosses in the proposed Shield Law.

The article says “(t)he Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on House Bill 2557 (where) Honolulu city prosecutors argued that the shield bill needs to be weakened so that journalists can be forced to reveal their sources in criminal cases, a change that mainstream media representatives said would be acceptable if it applied only to nontraditional journalists. “

It also says “Deputy Attorney General Girard Lau said he also doesn't want to see bloggers, pamphleteers or one-time Internet posters attempting to claim a right to withhold information from the courts.

“The measure would grant all current and former mainstream reporters legal protections, but bloggers and other Internet reporters would have to prove they're disseminating news in the "substantial public interest."

But according to Honolulu Advertiser Capitol Correspondent Derrick DePledge’s “blog”, Portnoy said that traditional news media organizations would prefer that “tests” apply only to bloggers.

Portnoy is reportedly representing “the media” in negotiations with prosecutors to produce a compromise with prosecutors at the request of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian Taniguchi who reportedly will not let the bill out of committee without it.

According to DePledge the issues and some of the tests include

*How to cover bloggers or citizen journalists. The state Attorney General's office believes the bill is so broad it would protect bloggers, people who pass out leaflets, or one-time posters on Internet Web sites.
*Whether a three-part balancing test for disclosure of information should apply to civil or criminal cases. The test requires the party seeking the disclosure to show by convincing evidence that the information is unavailable despite the exhaustion of all reasonable alternatives, is noncumulative, and is necessary and relevant to the case.
*Whether there should be an exception for law enforcement investigations.
*Whether there should be an exception for reporters who are witnesses to crimes.
*Whether unpublished notes or other material should be protected even if there is no expectation from the source that the material is confidential.

The problem is that the shield may be defined by the title of the person doing the reporting, not the reporting itself.

We facetiously asked DePledge if he thought information he reports in his “blog” should have less protection than in a standard article? Does Dave Shapiro’s Wed. column have protection but not his daily blog?

It’s the act of reporting not the title of “MSM reporter” over “blogger” that needs protection. If the information being sought in court is obtained in the course of newsgathering and reporting it needs to be protected. It’s that simple.

This watchdog has been an independent journalist on Kaua`i for more than 30 years and recently started blogging mostly on Kaua`i politics. Does that mean reporting in our new “blog” is no longer news-gathering and reporting?

“ windmills?” usually tries to do at least one piece of original reporting in every “blog” yet by using the “” software do we lose protection of the process of gathering that item reported? Does the mere fact that we’ve referred to our daily op-ed/reporting as a “blog” disqualify what we do from protection?

Or does the association with Parx News Net (PNN) confer protections not available to the “blogs” of far more experienced independent professional journalists such as Joan Conrow, Doug White or Ian Lind?. What about Larry Geller’s reporting on his blog?... or for that matter non-journalists like Charley Foster if he were to do some legitimate original reporting?

Portnoy reportedly says he’d rather not have a bill than have a bad one. But if good means protecting those who buy ink by the barrel and excludes those who publish using a “greener” technology because of the name of the platform, it certainly raises red flags for many of us.

If what Depledge reports is true, don’t do us any favors, Jeff.

Update: The probability that Foodland CEO Jenai Wall was paying attention to the Linda Harmon led boycott of Foodland as we reported, was confirmed by Harmon today.

In an article published at Island Breath she reports:

Although Jenai claimed she had seen some of the letters, petitions or emails identifiying concerns of community about the loss of the monkeypod trees in Koloa, but not all. She said is now on the case, and has responded to all those she has seen. She also told us she has made more efforts than any of the other tenant on this issue of preserving the trees, but has done so privately.

In a personal phone call to me she saught an apology from the People for the Preservation of Koloa Trees, for making unreasonable statements about her and her company. My response was to indicate I would not apologize for our actions, but would be the first to applaud Foodland for making a public stand for the trees with the developer and property owner.

Since then her representative has made an appeal by phone as to how they could accomodate those protesting in front of the Foodland store on Kauai.

The boycott demonstrations reportedly continue with a fourth one scheduled this Thursday, March 21st , 2008 from 5:-7 p.m. at Foodland in Waipouli


Doug said...

"Independent professional journalist?!"

Moi? I'm a blogger, Andy. No shame.

But seriously, I share your frustration with Portnoy's comments. I am hoping he was quoted out of context and that there is more to his opinion than what we have read.

Joan Conrow said...

So who is Jeff to be deciding who gets protection and who doesn't? And is the MSM so threatened by bloggers and citizen reporters that it's willing to hang them out to dry in exchange for getting protection only for its own reporters?

Anonymous said...

Hey, I did original reporting of the 5th Circuit Superferry hearings. And a couple of demonstrations too. No anonymous sources though.

I couldn't support a privilege if it failed to provide that a reporter would have to disclose in a case in which a criminal defendant would otherwise be deprived of access to any exculpatory evidence.