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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bloggers and citizen journalists are getting an undue amount of attention, according to a prominent media blogging expert.
Robert Cox, the founder and president of Media Bloggers Association, addressed a room of more than 100 journalists Saturday during the 2007 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference in Washington, D.C. During his address, he compared his organization to NATO.
“We help bloggers who are under attack and who face media threats,” Cox said. “We pool together resources and make available pro-bono legal representation to people who have no financial incentive and who have no institutional backing.”
Cox explained that his organization was founded in 2004 as a means to further support the development of blogging as a distinct form of media. In his address, he explained that awareness of blogging developed in 2000, followed by the launch of the first blog in 2002. By 2003, Cox developed a national debate blog that was ordered to cease and desist in 2004 by the New York Times. Two years later, the Media Bloggers Association provided co-counsel for a blogger case in Maine that dealt with copyright infringement and defamation. In the last year, Cox negotiated media credentials for the Association’s membership to cover the Scooter Libby trial and the 2008 presidential debates.
Providing a breakdown of citizen journalism’s prominence within the media landscape, Cox said the majority of blogging litigation has been filed in California, involving defamation and copyright infringement. There are currently 38 legal cases pending. Corporate, government, dissatisfied customers, personal and educational feuds, cult and religion, sex and pornography, gossip and real estate top the subject matters. Approximately one third of all blogging cases are dismissed or dropped. Finally, in the last year, it is estimated that bloggers have lost $17.2 million, with the likelihood reaching $20 million by the end of 2007. Given all numbers, Cox believes the time has come for bloggers and journalists to unite as one.
“Although bloggers feel its more because they lack the legal resources, financial backing and support from an institution, to separate is wrong,” Cox said. “We have more to gain as a group because ultimately, the same issues affect everyone.”
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. SPJ includes more than 9,000 members from all areas of journalism. For further information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.