Image via WikipediaIn Too Much Media, LLC et al. v. Shellee Hale (Docket No. A-0964-09T3) the NJ Superior Court Appellate Division ruled this week that blogger Shellee Hale was not a journalist entitled to protect confidential sources and newsgathering information under the Garden State's shield law (N.J. Stat. sec. 2A:84A-21).
The appellate court upheld the finding by Superior Court Judge Louis Locascio last year that Hale was not a journalist because she was unaffiliated with a media organization and didn't engage in journalistic activities, such as fact-checking, and was not subject to editorial review. [See "TUOL" post 07/08/09.]
Plaintiffs sued the defendant for defamation in 2008 after she posted comments about them on the message board of Oprano.com, the self-proclaimed Wall St. Journal of the pornography industry. The postings involved allegations of a purported security breach at the Plaintiff's company, which provides software to online porno sites, and of alleged threats made against the defendant.
Hale claimed the postings were part of a story she was writing about the online pornography industry, but the appellate court likened the postings to a letter to the editor of a publication, not the writings of a journalist.