Debra J. Saunders

Was Wolf imprisoned? Yes. Unjustly? You bet; he didn't commit a crime. But he wasn't a journalist.

He was a self-described artist, activist and anarchist who recorded a 2005 demonstration against the World Trade Organization, at which a protester broke the skull of San Francisco police officer Peter Shields. Wolf was not a real reporter; he had no confidential-source agreement. He was an activist and an amateur who later became a real journalist when he was hired by a newspaper and had to adhere to professional standards.

Back to the proposed shield law. The Society of Professional Journalists urged members to protest earlier Feinstein language that defined journalists as "salaried" staffers of news organizations or "independent contractors." I don't understand what SPJ leaders were thinking.

Organizations that represent professionals usually try to protect the craft, to set standards that enhance standing in the community, and also, not coincidentally, to help their practice thrive economically.

Journalists? Many have voiced their outrage that Feinstein dared suggest that they're more polished than a 17-year-old blogger.

SPJ now supports the shield law in part because it includes so-called improvements, such as dumping the compensation requirement. Yes, journalist groups actually pushed for Washington to pass laws that protect competitors who don't pay their people.

Do you think maybe real reporters have a real death wish?

Debra J. Saunders

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