Shield Law Upheld For Blogger, But I’m Still Confused

MediaBob wants to know what you think of this, Blue Jersey. Promoted by Rosi.

OK, I like the New Jersey shield law, and that it protects bloggers.  But I’m not sure I get the recent decision about Tina Renna, an activist blogger in Union County who runs The County Watchers blog.  She writes (and states in court documents) that she has 16 names of county employees who used county generators for personal or unapproved purposes after Hurricane Sandy.

Prosecutor Ted Romankow subpoenaed Renna for the names of those 16 people because misusing public resources is a crime.  But Renna fought the subpoena by saying the names would reveal her source.  I can see that.  

But here’s where I get confused. Apparently Renna as a blogger is shielded by the law because:

Judge Karen Cassidy … said Renna “obtained material in the course of professional newsgathering activities” with the aim of disseminating it over the internet. (sic)

But Renna didn’t disseminate the information on the Internet, and is trying to keep it secret. She is, instead, in court trying to keep the information private.  

I’m torn.  Renna is an activist as well as a blogger/reporter, and she definitely has it in for the Union County government and it’s leaders.  I don’t have a problem with that, obviously, since Blue Jersey is similar.  But Renna made an allegation of malfeasance and crime by people holding public jobs, and to me this seems like wanting to have it both ways: 1) she gets to hurt the folks she’s working against with an allegation; but 2) doesn’t actually have to back up the allegation.  

So what do you think, Blue Jersey?  Does this meet what you think the measure should be for shielding reporters?  Not what the law says (though any lawyers who want to weigh in on that, come on!), but what you think would be the proper use of a shield law in this case.

And some snark below the fold.

Bob Ingle writes:

Later in a blog post she said Prosecutor Theodore Romankow was using his office to “harass” her. Romankow said his office is considering an appeal. Maybe he should wait until there is no crime in Union County before tilting at this windmill.

Ingle is the one who wrote The Soprano State all about public corruption and misappropriation of public resources.  Does he really think that taking generators meant for public uses — say traffic lights, medical facilities, gas stations, etc. — for personal use is not a crime?

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