by MADIHA MIRZA
Josh Wolf is a 24-year-old independent journalist and video blogger who spent more than 7 months behind bars in California, which is the longest time any U.S. journalist has served in the prison for protecting source materials.
On the night of July 8, 2005, Wolf captured a police officer choking a guy during the protest against G8 summit in San Francisco and published the video on his blog. Since Wolf's video was the only one with the known source, it was wanted by FBI by subpoena but Wolf refused to give it. In September 2006, Wolf was jailed by Federal District court and was released in April 2006 after serving 226 days in prison.
One of the most important issues surrounding Wolf's case was the dispute on the legal definition of a journalist.
The Society of Professional Journalists awarded Wolf with the Journalist of the Year award for "upholding the principles of a free and independent press".
Wolf was described as "the only journalist jailed for his professional activities in the U.S. in 2006" by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Wolf can be considered a journalist because the California shield law states that "a publisher, editor, reporter or other person connected with or employed by a newspaper, magazine or other periodical publication, or by a press association or a wire service, or any person who is so connected or so employed" can qualify for the California Shield Law.
Wolf worked for Indybay, which is under San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center. Wolf fulfilled the requirements of a journalist by The Ethics Code of the Society of Professional Journalists, the oldest organization representing journalists in the U.S., which states that "a journalist should act independently, seek and report truth and be accountable."
A blog is a derivation of the words web and log and is a type of a website. Anyone can maintain a blog to publish commentary and description of events and post pictures.
A blog cannot be considered a legitimate source of news. The majority of the blogs predominantly express an individual's opinion and the content may contain personal bias.
The reputable news sources such as the New York Times and CNN are considered credible sources because they are widely circulated, are objective and have well-established systems of reporting and quality control process.
Bill Keller, of New York Times, described the difference between a credible source of news and a blog in an article. "We've only got two things that distinguish us from blogs," Keller said. "One is we have reporting staff who actually go out and see stuff and are trained professionals. And we have standards which are enforced by editors -- you double-check things, make sure it's right -- and all that costs money," Keller said.