by TOM BENSON
When Josh Wolf was imprisoned for failing to comply with a Federal subpoena demanding the release of video of riots at the G8 Summit in San Francisco, issues on both sides of the argument were quickly realized, if not acted upon. Some people in the journalistic community questioned the validity of the subpoena, while others wondered if Wolf fit the technical definition of a journalist as he claimed or if he was simply another blogger, and therefore not under California's shield law protection as other journalists would be.
After reading through both the TIME interview with Wolf and the Wiki article about him, I really have no problem calling him an independent journalist. He covered many activist/protests before the G8 incident, operated (continues to operate?) a blog covering these protests, and even had his footage aired on local news networks.
However, there is some issue regarding a blog as a creditable source for news, and for good reason. Anyone can start a blog, and blogs have a tendency to be biased. While blogs may be biased, and that may be a reason that they're not a legitimate news source, that doesn't mean that they're all useless. The difference is the sources, and the credibility of the author writing the articles in the blog are indicators of the authenticity of the writing. Given Wolf's experience in covering many different protests gives him an authenticity in what he's saying, and biased or not, provides a certain side of the events that took place.
After Wolf's imprisonment, the Society of Professional Journalists awarded him with the Journalist of the Year for "upholding the principles of the free and independent press", for not disclosing the footage of the riots. The mainstream media was slower to defend Wolf, questioning his credibility as a journalist. But once they saw the "threat", as Wolf put it, and that he wasn't withholding his information for some stunt, they began to support Wolf from the outside.