by EMILY SCHNACKY
He went to great heights to protect his First Amendment freedoms and now 28-year-old blogger Josh Wolf is known as the longest-serving journalist behind bars for spending nearly 8 months in federal prison.
Wolf shot video footage of a chaotic anti-G8 anarchist protest in San Francisco July 8, 2005 where a police officer was injured. The authorities wanted to view the unedited footage alleging that it may show a squad car being set on fire, which is a federal crime.
Wolf refused to hand over the video footage of the protest and failed to testify before a grand jury. He claimed that as a freelance videographer and blogger, he is an independent journalist protected under shield law and should not be forced to hand over unpublished materials or reveal confidential sources.
The federal judge thought otherwise and ruled that a blog is not a legitimate source of news. He went on to say that Wolf is not technically a journalist because he had no connection to an actual news publication.
The First Amendment, freedom of the press, was not crafted just to protect the mainstream media. One of its clear aims was to allow journalists to do their jobs without government regulation or interference. The mainstream media views Wolf's radical actions as a publicity stunt and do not consider him a journalist.
The members of the Society for Professional Journalists have opposing views and believe that by standing up for his First Amendment rights Wolf did the right thing.
"We have to make a stand someplace as the government attempts over and over to change the role of journalists as independent observers to arms of law enforcement. If we allow this to happen we will all end up less informed and less able to practice self-government," said Dave Carlson, Former National President of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Wolf deserves to be recognized for all of the video coverage he did on protests, some of which he sold to local television news stations, and for his radical blog. Wolf feels that journalists should never be arms of law enforcement and he will do anything, even if it means jail time, to stand up for what he believes in.