In the ongoing debate on journalist vs. blogger, a Portland judge’s recent ruling draws a clear distinction between the two. Crystal Cox, a self-identified investigative blogger, was sued by the investment firm Obsidian Finance Group for defamation. She wrote several articles that were highly critical of the firm’s co-founder Kevin Padrick, who told OregonLive.com “The damage to me is forever. The Internet is not capable of being undone.”

U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez decided that Cox is not entitled to protection under Oregon’s media shield law because she is not “affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system.” He disagrees with her self-identification as “media,” but goes on to say that even if she were entitled protection, it would not be granted due to the case being a “civil action for defamation.”

This case highlights the gap between our slow-to-change institutions and the always-changing Internet. As Matthew Ingram at GigaOm pointed out, there are “shield laws” in 40 states, “but some have been updated to include cover newer forms of media such as blogs, and others haven’t.” Just a little bit north in Washington state, Cox would’ve been protected by an expanded shield law. Read more