From Publishers Weekly
In his first book, Gant, a law partner in Washington, D.C., and former counsel for the New Republic
, attempts to update our slim definition of "journalist" for the Internet age. In this narrow volume, he casts a wide net. Adamant that journalism is an activity undertaken, and not a profession practiced, Gant invites us all to join the ranks of the press. He argues that the media's role as a check on government depends on both the expanded category of journalist and the unfettered freedom to report without fear of government reproach. Using specific landmark constitutional law cases, as well as contemporary examples, including the Valerie Plame case and the San Francisco Chronicle
reporters who uncovered the BALCO scandal, Gant makes the case that the health of our democracy requires a press clause that entitles journalists to constitutional protection from revealing their sources. His argument draws parallels between colonial pamphleteers and present-day bloggers. His scope is radical, simultaneously calling for the enactment of federal shield laws for the press and a greatly expanded definition of who is a journalist (roughly, everyone). Gant's forward-thinking logic is presented convincingly, though he dismisses the most immediate problems with suspicious facility. (June)
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With the growth of the Internet and common access to technology, it is increasingly difficult to clearly mark the boundaries between professional journalists and anyone with the means to spread information about what they see, hear, or think. Gant, an attorney, analyzes the current state of flux in American journalism and argues against special privileges and protections for journalists. We're all journalists and should have the same rights under the First Amendment, he affirms. Gant offers a brief history of American journalism, its role in a democracy, and the advent of "new journalism," including the concept of the citizen journalist. He details the tensions between professional and citizen journalists and notes that more than 50 million Americans daily turn to the Internet for news. Gant highlights several recent cases where information disseminators evoked protections generally given to professional journalists: for example, an independent filmmaker who videotaped a protest in San Francisco that resulted in a clash with police and a Web site sued by Apple for disclosing information regarding new products. An engrossing look at the ongoing debate about how journalism is evolving. Bush, Vanessa