Is a blogger a real journalist? St John trial will decide
Date: Friday, November 03 2006
Blogger's obstruction trial to test definition of journalist
[Some of us have blogs which serve the public interest. Mine (The Legislature Raids) is receiving a lot of attention now that the pre-trial hearings for the trials have begun in B.C. Supreme Court. All bloggers need to know that this new, on-line form of a free press is protected from assault. - BC Mary]
November 2, 2006
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.
Charles LeBlanc, who goes on trial Thursday, takes pictures in downtown Fredericton for his blog.
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."
Leblanc's website is a massive collection of his musings, raw personal opinions and in some cases original journalism.
Tim Currie, who teaches online journalism at the University of King's College in Halifax, says bloggers like LeBlanc have begun to gain some recognition as legitimate journalists. "Many people are beginning to agree that what we used to call journalism needs to include a much broader spectrum of people who act journalistically. That we can't just consider reporters who work for mainstream media organizations as the only ones who can be journalists."
LeBlanc works in a journalistic grey area, but it doesn't deter him in the least, and neither does an almost complete lack of resources.
LeBlanc is on social assistance and often eats at the Fredericton soup kitchen just to make ends meet. His digital camera is a gift from an anonymous donor.