Associated Press CEO Calls For Full Press Rights For Bloggers

     The business of journalism has become more fluid and the question about who should be protected as a “journalist” has become unclear. The question whether bloggers deserve to be protected by shield laws has often come up in freedom of the press debates.


     Associated Press President and CEO Tom Curley said he believes bloggers deserve protections.


     “[I] believe the bloggers should have the right that the rest of us are entitled to,” Curley said. “Some of the debate has been over working for an identifiable news organization. At this point, that was left off the table. We couldn’t get consensus on that, identifying that.”


     Curley was the keynote speaker at the Sunshine Week dinner at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on March 18. He spoke about the changes in the newsgathering industry and acknowledged the Internet-based content has already surpassed that of traditional media outlets.


     “[L]et’s put one thing in perspective,” Curley said. “In 2006 for the first time ever, more people got their information from the Internet on any given day than they did from any other source. So, that’s already past tense if you want to measure that now.”


     Curley said it was probably premature to suggest the three main outlets – print, broadcast and online media have merged and were “all one.”


     “[S]ome of us are talking that way,” Curley said. “But we know inside our organizations, we are not there by any stretch of the imagination. We are all looking at what the next steps are.”


     Curley even suggested some aspects of the Internet are becoming dated – what he called legacy Web sites that have been in existence since the development of the Internet browser.


     “The short answer in terms of where we are going I think would be like this – in 1995 along came the browser,” Curley said. “The browser opened up access for the average folk to the World Wide Web, and we all set about creating what are called ‘legacy Web sites.’”


     “So where are we in 2008? In 2007, along came something called the ‘smart phone,’ more specifically, the iPhone. So I think that is the line of demarcation for something else. Content is really moving in a viral way. So, it’s being freed from evening newscasts, from newspapers and from those legacy Web sites to travel to devices like these and the more smart phones that being snapped up everyday. So that requires a whole different way of doing business.”


     As for the profession of journalism – Curley didn’t think it was going to be dead with the evolution of the online media age and if anything, it provided more opportunities.


     “This is a tremendous opportunity for people and content,” Curley said. “And this is especially a good opportunity for those in journalism. The journalist has not and will not be replaced. They cannot be replaced. Nothing has come along today to replace the journalist. There are not journalists in any quantity at these new media organizations. They are still living on what it is we do. I just think we need to understand that we cannot ignore a 200-year change in technology. So, we can’t just be so buried in the sand that we ignore different ways of distribution.”


     Those are the same sentiments echoed by former “NBC Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw on the future of the media.


     “There will never not be a need for professional people to take complicated information, put it into a form that viewers and readers will need to know and want to understand,” Brokaw said on Nov. 19, 2007 at the Sixth & I Synagogue in Washington, D.C.