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TRENTON —New Jersey’s legal protections allowing journalists to keep their sources secret do not apply to those who post to online message boards, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
The court, clarifying an area of law that has not kept up with advances on the internet, said bloggers must have some connection to "news media" to invoke New Jersey’s shield law protecting journalists from revealing their confidential sources.
He said the decision narrows the scope of people who qualify for the protection to keep sources confidential, a sentiment echoed by the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based policy research group.
"Putting aside the wisdom of shield laws, they should not exist to protect only certain classes of Americans a court defines as ‘journalists.’ Freedom of the press is not truly free if the definition of ‘press’ is left up to the whim of a judge," said Jim Lakely, co-director of the institute’s Center on the Digital Economy.