Disturbing news for bloggers out of Washington, D.C. today.

Okay, so why is today any different from any other day?

From Andrew LaVallee at the Wall Street Journal:

A recent amendment to the federal shield bill being considered in the Senate will exclude non-”salaried” journalists and bloggers from the proposed law’s protections.

The law, called the Free Flow of Information Act, is intended to prevent journalists from being forced to divulge confidential sources, except in cases such as witnessing crimes or acts of terrorism. The amendment, introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) last week, limits the definition of a journalist to one who “obtains the information sought while working as a salaried employee of, or independent contractor for, an entity–

a. that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, or other means; and

b. that—

1. publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical;

2. operates a radio or television broadcast station, network, cable system, or satellite carrier, or a channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier;

3. operates a programming service; or

4. operates a news agency or wire service.”

As an unpaid blogger — according to this definition — let me say this: government should not have the right to define what is and is not “the press.”  If a resident of any town wants to sit down with a word processing program and print the news on 8.5″ x 11″ and become the next town crier, how can Washington say this journalistic neophyte is not legit?

The government cannot do this.  The government must not take this step.  Schumer is wrong. If this amendment does pass, the Supremes would be well advised to declare it unconstitutional.

Why?  Consider this…

What would Chuck Schumer have done with Thomas Paine? Would Schumer first have to consider if Paine was paid for Common Sense?  Would he conclude that Paine was just an independent blogger, you know, throwing his opinion around?

Would Chuck Schumer be the guy turning Thomas Paine over to the British?

You gotta wonder.