Friday, November 03, 2006

Blogger's obstruction trial to test definition of journalist

Hat tip to my Dad for finding this one. I will be very interested to see the outcome, even if it is Canada.

Self-described internet journalist Charles LeBlanc goes on trial Thursday, accused by police of obstructing justice during a rowdy demonstration in Saint John last June.

LeBlanc says he was only taking pictures for his blog, and the case is really about freedom of the press extending to all journalists, not just those working for big media companies. The case is being closely watched in journalism circles around the country.

LeBlanc has been a regular in downtown Fredericton for the last two years, spotting or stopping cabinet ministers and other power brokers on the sidewalks in front of government buildings for chats and photographs to provide content for his online journal. "This is the capital," he said. "All the generals are here. You never know who you'll run into."

LeBlanc is constantly grabbing images on his digital camera and then walking back to his small apartment and posting them on his website.

He often gets pictures of events out hours before regular media outlets do, including coverage of Premier Shawn Graham's first day in office. "All the media was behind me, so I just went out front and the first thing Shawn says is 'Oh, Charles.' I mean, I'm like a reporter but I'm not paid for it."

The story doesn't really say what he did to warrant the charge of "obstructing justice", unless just taking pictures is classified as obstructing justice. Sounds like maybe he got in the way of the cops? If so, even a regular journalist might find themselves in trouble.

Even if it was only taking pictures- good luck stopping that, Canada or elsewhere. We are now in the age of instant journalism where anyone with a camera and a computer can be a reporter.