As the line between bloggers and journalists continues to get thinner and thinner, one thing is clear. Citizen journalists/bloggers tend to practice their craft without the backing of major media corporations that can support them in libel lawsuits or other legal matters.
The Citizen Media Law Project is a new partnership between Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society and the Center for Citizen Media. The site will focus on everything from how to form a business to how to access government and public records. And of course, there will be information on the risks associated with journalism and blogging.
One of the exciting things about new media like blogs, vlogs, and podcasts is that we get to see how people who haven’t been through J-school report and analyze the news. But when wading in treacherous waters, it’s nice to have a life preserver, whether it’s a company with deep pockets to pay your court bills, or a solid understanding of the law so that you don’t wind up in the courtroom in the first place.
The Citizen Media Law Project is creating a database of legal actions (including threats, lawsuits and subpoenas) involving citizen media. The database will both help citizen journalists to avoid common pitfalls, and will also point out the areas where institutions might be a bit too trigger happy with the litigation.