Who is a journalist?
The CJR does a great piece about the shield laws, noting the biggest hurdle is the definition of who, or what, is a journalist. It’s a question that not only the government is trying to answer, but the industry as a whole as well.
But defining who’s in and who’s out is a tricky matter. The boundaries of state-level shield laws and court decisions recognizing some version of a reporters’ privilege have often been tested by everyday citizens and borderline cases who are called to testify and find it convenient to claim that they were acting as journalists when they came into information that a prosecutor or civil litigant wants to air in court. (One prominent example, decided in the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 1998, ruled that a pro-wrestling color-commentator who was occasionally involved in plotlines was not entitled to the privilege.)
(Note to self: If I become a pro-wrestling commentator, have no expectation of not being compelled to testify in Federal court as to where I get my information from…)
If you have any interest in the subject, just go read it on CJR so I don’t have to regurgitate it all here.