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Jerk of the month *** Updated x3 ***

Thursday, Jul 26, 2007

[I’ve changed the title and format to give this one it’s own post.]

Jerk of the Month: Peoria County juvenile court judge, Albert Purham, Jr.

A Peoria County juvenile court judge, Albert Purham, Jr., would not allow a blogger, Elaine Hopkins for Peoriastory.com, to observe and cover a July 25 juvenile court hearing. He ruled that a blogger is not a journalist under Illinois law.

Juvenile court is closed to the public in Illinois, but by law is open to journalists.

Operating a a “so-called blog” doesn’t make the person a journalist, Purham said.

Before the ruling he consulted the lawyers in the courtroom. A lawyer for the parent in this child welfare case had no objection, and her client, Lorraine Singleton who lost her children in 2003 and is trying to get them back, also had no objection.

But assistant state’s attorney Susan Lucas objected, as did an unidentified female lawyer apparently representing the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

An explanation that Peoriastory.com has operated since February 2007, has business cards, and is run by Hopkins, a former newspaper reporter known to court personnel, did not sway the judge.

Peoria Pundit adds his two cents

One wonders what Judge Purham would have done were he a judge decades ago when the first radio journalists began doing their jobs. Most early broadcast reporters were, like Elaine, veterans of the print world who were trying their hand at a new exciting way to distribute the news. Would Purham have turned away young Walter Cronkite, a United Press reporter before he became Uncle Walter?

What makes a person a journalist isn’t the particular media he or she uses to disseminate the news. It’s the fact that they are disseminating the news to a mass audience.

My own advice to all bloggers who are doing legit journalism and want to avoid problems with jerks like Purham: Join the National Writers Union. Dues are relatively inexpensive and they have a vetting process for issuing press passes, so their approval adds substantial weight when dealing with those unfortunate souls who are still living in the 20th Century. There are other benefits as well. I’m a member.

*** UPDATE 1 *** YDD makes an excellent point in comments about this issue by citing state law [705 ILCS 405/1-5(6)]

The general public except for the news media and the crime victim, as defined in Section 3 of the Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act, shall be excluded from any hearing

Which YDD points out means…

I don’t think you’ll find anyone on the street today who would disagree that the Internet is a medium for news. Whether a blogger fits the definition of “journalist” is another question, but a completely irrelevant one under the law.

[Emphasis added]

And then there’s this

This Act shall be liberally construed to carry out the foregoing purpose and policy.

YDD…

In other words, when in doubt, use the most liberal interpretation.

*** UPDATE 2 *** This was no run of the mill hearing. The grandmother of the girl in question claims she was abused in a foster home and has criticized a local judge. Elaine Hopkins, the blogger who was banned from the courtroom, is a former journalist and has covered the story on her blog

Crystal Clark has settled down in front of the Peoria County courthouse, on the corner of Main and Jefferson, to protest the treatment of her grandchildren in foster care, and the refusal of Chief Judge Rick Grawey to meet with her group to discuss child welfare issues. […]

She said her grandchildren had been found to be dehydrated at the hands of foster parents, and she plans to refuse both food and water to call attention to their treatment. […]

Clark’s daughter lost the children when she was sent to prison for petty theft, but the children remained in the home they all were sharing with Clark. Then the children were removed from Clark’s care by a Catholic Social Service caseworker and placed in foster care. […]

While in foster care the children were abused, she said, and placed in several homes including one condemned by the the city of Peoria, before landing in foster care in a rural Peoria home. They have not been taken to their own church, she said, adding religious discrimination to the list of problems.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Google News is not 100 percent comprehensive, but it appears that the story about the foster care case is not being covered by the local media. I also have found no mention of the main players on the Peoria Journal-Star’s website.

Elaine Hopkins appears to be the only media person in the area who’s expressed any interest in this case. Without her reporting, nobody is gonna know anything. Maybe that’s how the Peoria judges like it.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

51 Comments
  1. - Captain America - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 10:21 am:

    Given her longstanding career as a journalist working for a reputable news organization, it is that she shoud receive a press pass. Seh qaulifies as an independent journalist. The Peoria judge was clearly “out-of-order” in this case. But as a practical matter, I’m not sure how to dsitnguish between a “legit journalist” and a blogger. I wouldn’t accredit just any blogger who wanted to attend.


  2. - Crimefighter - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 10:22 am:

    I’m a blogger but I make no money at it…wonder how much it’s truly worth to join…


  3. - Captain America - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 10:25 am:

    Please pardon my multiple careless typos - it is clear that she should receive a press pass. She qualifies as an independent journalist.


  4. - BlueByrd - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 10:44 am:

    I find nothing wrong with his decision. Just because you have an opinion and access to blogger.com doesn’t make you a journalist.


  5. - Skeeter - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 11:07 am:

    It raises interesting questions.

    The first that comes to mind is why they close a hearing but yet any journalists in. Closed should mean closed.

    The second is how you can distinguish between “legitimate press” and somehow “illegitimate press” as it is apparent the judge was attempting to do. The distinction seems necessarily artificial.

    Courts try and draw lines. Often those lines are odd. I wouldn’t call the judge a jerk. He just tried to reconcile the irreconciable. Welcome to The Law in Illinois.


  6. - Macbeth - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 11:08 am:

    Agreed — bloggers aren’t journalists. Look at any of the navel-gazing blogs referencing other navel-gazing blogs — and it’s one big navel-gazing, love-fest.

    I wouldn’t call that journalism. I’d call it a lot of people *aspiring* to be journalists — or aspiring to be what they perceive journalists are *not* — but I wouldn’t call it journalism.

    Blogging is ten years old. Big deal. I still wear a pair of navy boots that I wore in the 50s.


  7. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 11:24 am:

    I’d love to see the judge’s precise ruling. There’s nothing in Illinois that requires you to be a journalist to cover Juvenile Court proceedings. Here’s what the law actually says:

    “The general public except for the news media and the crime victim, as defined in Section 3 of the Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act, shall be excluded from any hearing” (705 ILCS 405/1-5(6))

    I don’t think you’ll find anyone on the street today who would disagree that the Internet is a medium for news. Whether a blogger fits the definition of “journalist” is another question, but a completely irrelevant one under the law.

    Trying to distinguish between “legit news media” and “illegit news media” tramples on the 1st Amendment. Does People Magazine, National Enquirer, Fox News qualify as “legit news media”, or even “journalists”? Not in my opinion, but I think this act is construed so as to make my opinion irrelevant.

    After all, the act says “This Act shall be liberally construed to carry out the foregoing purpose and policy.”(705/ILCS 405/1-2) In other words, when in doubt, use the most liberal interpretation.

    Is this a bunch of blogger just talking to themselves? Not really. For years, one judge in particular in Champaign County has been in the habit of severing the parental rights of black parents and putting their kids up for adoption. Court stats show that his numbers are off the charts, but the local main stream media refuses to cover the story. Allowing judges to ban bloggers means this story might never get told, and freedom of the press is our last line of defense against most government oppression.


  8. - Crimefighter - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 11:25 am:

    Are freelancers journalists? Or are they classified as bloggers?


  9. - publius - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 11:29 am:

    i don’t believe a blogger is necessicarily a journalist—nor do i believe that some tv commentators are journalists—-but i question why jourmalists should have more access to government than private citizens do.


  10. - The Blogger Formerly Known As Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 11:33 am:

    Freelance journalists are credentialed on a case-by-case basis–typically by the organization they cover.


  11. - Pull - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 11:35 am:

    I remember being at an early first term Blago press conference in his Springfield Capitol office, and seeing a guy I recognized from college be told by security he was not credentialed and escorted out. The guy ran a very small ‘zine in Chicago with money from an inheritance. It was one of those things that was more like his hobby: he used it to generate incendiary quotes that Republican candidates could then cite as “newspaper and magazine articles”. It was really more of a Rush Limbaugh fan club newsletter thing than anything approaching straight journalism. So, I felt no remorse at seeing the guy get booted from the room.

    On the other hand, it alwyas made me wonder at the credentialling process regarding who is considered a “real” reporter. Only members of a national press organization? Only people who are published in dead tree format at least once a month? Only people who can show they work for a corporation that owns one or more stations?

    Does the governor’s office have published rules as to what constitutes the credentials? Who is the fnal arbiter of allowing or disallowing people to cover the governor?


  12. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 11:39 am:

    See my earlier comments. There’s nothing in the law that requires you to be a “journalist.”


  13. - BlueByrd - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 11:50 am:

    Peoria Pundit comparing himself to a radio journalist…someone’s full of himself and his blog.


  14. Pingback “So-called blog” « Illinois Reason - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 12:02 pm:

    […] Illinois political reporter and columnist (and blogger) Rich Miller notes that those who consider themselves to be bloggers and legitimate reporters, but are unaffiliated with an established news organization, may wish to join the National Writers Union. Mr. Miller is himself a member. Most of the work he does is as an independent, self-publishing journalist (he publishes his own newsletter and his own blog, in addition to writing a column for a Chicago-area news company). […]


  15. - Lainer - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 12:11 pm:

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or media expert to see that print newspapers are severely in decline — losing money like crazy and cutting back staff. Internet/blog journalism, like it or not, is the wave of the future, and reporters who get laid off from, retire from, or leave traditional newspapers are probably going to have to head that way. I do agree with Rich that some kind of credentialing organization like the National Writers Union might help sort out trained journalists who check their sources, etc. from the bloggers who just post anything.

    I am somewhat acquainted with Elaine from my years in Peoria (we have the same first name in case you hadn’t guessed). She’s been in the biz for decades and there should be no question of her qualifications as a journalist.


  16. - Cassandra - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 12:12 pm:

    A mother of three goes to jail for what sounds like an extended period for petty theft? Are we reliving a Charles Dickens novel?

    The increasing numbers of women with minor children in prison systems is a national phenomenon. And it’s bad for the kids.

    Whatever the merits of the grandmother’s arguments, it’s hard to believe these kids wouldn’t have been better off at home with mom, even if mom had to wear a monitor. Now they are getting shuffled around the child welfare system as per usual. While mom sits in jail to the tune of $30,000 a year plus whatever the foster care service costs.

    Prisons and child welfare systems do generate a lot of nice state jobs and contracts, though.
    Especially in Illinois. And judges like this one
    are part of that system, having gotten their jobs through politics after all.


  17. - Ghost - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 12:20 pm:

    Um Rich, you comment that it is not being covered by the local media…But isnt that just the effect of the ruling…If the Judge denies access to the local media then it is of course not being covered.

    On a side note, the word media (from medium) was used in the news context in the 1920’s with the advent of nationwide radio. They needed a term to describe news reporting that went was inclusive of more sources then just print. This of course expanded to include televsion broadcasts, film clips etc. The use of the word news media demonstartes (to me) a legislative intent to include every possible method of distributing news (Blogs, podcasts, internet radio etc).


  18. - Skeeter - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 12:21 pm:

    Who is “news media”?

    Who is NOT “news media”?

    The judge tried to balance privacy issues for the family against a law the provides for limited coverage. If the law meant “completely open” it would say “Hearings shall be open.”

    The judge decided to draw a line at bloggers as opposed to print. The law required the judge to draw a line somewhere. If not, “doodles on paper that I sometimes let friends see” just might be considered “news media.”

    It is one thing to say the judge drew the line in the wrong place. Reasonable minds can differ on that issue. But calling the judge a “jerk”? I think a line was crossed here.

    Finally, I’ve often disagreed with decisions by judges. But I always try to avoid making it personal, even when the judge is off in left field. “Jerk” takes this from a wrong decision to something personal.


  19. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 12:22 pm:

    Um, Ghost, what I said was that if this blogger is being banned, then nobody is going to cover it. Traditional news media has apparently shown no interest.


  20. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 12:25 pm:

    Skeeter, read the statute again.

    And a jerk should be called out. The judge is a jerk. That’s how I see it.


  21. - Skeeter - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 12:38 pm:

    Rich,

    Assuming YDD is right (I assume he is but I haven’t looked it up), the statute provides:

    “The general public except for the news media and the crime victim, as defined in Section 3 of the Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act, shall be excluded from any hearing.”

    The statute pretty clearly contemplates some privacy rights for the family. The statute bars “the general public.”

    The Court had to draw a line between “general public” and “news media.” The State thought there is a difference, so the judge had to decide on that difference. He drew a line, as the statute required him to do.

    The statute thought there was a distinction there, and the judge had to acknowledge the distinction. Springfield thinks there is a difference between “somebody sitting there who might tell a friend” and “news media.” Whether that distinction is real or not is not up to the judge. He simply tried to follow the law.

    He did nothing more than to make a tough decision that you don’t like.

    If you want all hearings to be open, lobby Springfield. Pass open hearings legislation. But don’t make personal comments about a judge who simply tried to follow the law.

    Way too often people take court decisions personally. That is a major problem today, and it is a reason that so many people are avoiding taking the bench. Security has become a genuine issue for judges. When people and the media try to portray a judge as biased or a jerk, it adds to the difficulties that judges face and performs a real disservice to all of us.

    If you want to claim that the judge made a bad decision, call it a Bad Decision. Think it is really bad? Call it the Worst Judicial Decision of the Month (if that’s how you feel). But keep the focus on the decision and the judgment, and not on the judge himself.


  22. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 12:43 pm:

    ===The statute pretty clearly contemplates some privacy rights for the family.===

    Skeeter, read the freakin’ story. It says that the family’s attorney had NO OBJECTIONS to the presence of that reporter/blogger.


  23. - Little Egypt - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 12:53 pm:

    If Al Gore had not invented the internet, there would be no such things as blog, no blogger and no “blogmeister”. The people who run very popular and credible blogs usually have come from a journalism background. On one side, I can see where the judge is coming from because to allow one very reputable blogger in the courtroom would open the door for every Tom, Dick and Harry who has any kind of a blog to ask for the same privilege.

    With that said, however, on election day I seldom will vote to retain ANY judge. The public can have the last word on this one.

    My sympathy to this family for having to endure such a travesty for the children. It seems they are caught up in the “system” and can’t find a good way out.


  24. Pingback ‘So-called blog’ story is picking up traction, shining light on under-reported story | Peoria Pundits - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 12:54 pm:

    […] Rich Miller, in his Capital Fax Blog, has deemed Peoria County juvenile court judge Albert Purham, Jr. as “jerk of the month.” The post has picked up 20 comments in a short amount of time. He noted that there’s a lack of mainstream media coverage of the very story Elaine was trying to cover. Google News is not 100 percent comprehensive, but it appears that the story about the foster care case is not being covered by the local media. I also have found no mention of the main players on the Peoria Journal-Star’s website. […]


  25. - Skeeter - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 1:00 pm:

    Rich,

    The state did object.
    The court ruled on the objection.

    The judge may well have drawn the line incorrectly. That’s why we have appellate courts. That happens. Frankly, I don’t have any real opinions as to whether the judge’s ruling was right or wrong.

    However, the judge, faced with an objection, made a ruling. Making a ruling, even if its wrong, does not make him a “jerk.” It means he made a bad ruling.

    You can talk all day about how bad the ruling is, and I wouldn’t care. When people make it personal with judges though, that is a different matter.

    The judge made a ruling. Rip the ruling and not the judge.


  26. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 1:01 pm:

    Skeeter, being a judge does not exempt one from being called a jerk. Sorry if you disagree, but that’s my position.


  27. - Vinron - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 1:03 pm:

    I agree with the reading of the statute YDD found — a blogger should be considered news media. The definition of news media and reporter is pretty broad throughout the statutes.

    Reporter’s privilege: Reporter means any person regularly engaged in the business of collecting, writing or editing news for publication through a news medium on a full-time or part-time basis.. . . News medium is any newspaper or orther periodical issued at regular intervals whether in print or electronic format and having a general circulation, etc. 735 ILCS 5/8-902.

    As far as local gov’ts releasing arrest reports: news media means personnel of a newspaper or other periodical issued at regular intervals whether in print or electronic format, etc. (See 20 ILCS 2605/2605-302).

    That all being said, it appears that a judge has the power to allow media in to juvenile court as the judge sees fit. In re Minor v. Champaign News-Gazette, 205 Ill. App. 3d 480 (4th Dist. 1990).

    [Illinois’ General Assembly has a great website. It was easy to search for these statutes.]

    Blog, weblog, blogger. None of those words appears in the entire body of the Illinois Compiled Statutes.

    I’ve sent Ms. Hopkins an email — I hope to discuss this with her.


  28. - peoria media - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 1:04 pm:

    Rich, your last comment about the Peoria media not covering is not true at all. This story has been covered inthe past and it has also been reported that the mom making this allegations has a history of abuse. Elaine Hopkins blog is very liberal and very much anti-everything. I do not agree with the judges ruling, but I do take exception to your final comment.


  29. - BlueByrd - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 1:08 pm:

    Of course, now Elaine is the crusading “journalist” in this story. Classic.


  30. - Alison - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 2:04 pm:

    A blog is published writing, a journal of a person’s day. It’s a medium available whether others are or not. Therefore, a blogger is certainly a journalist — news media. The judge needs to do his research. One of these days the IL Statutes will catch up with the times. Also, Elaine Hopkins was in the court as a stringer & choses to publish her articles on the internet. Considering her as news media is wholly appropriate regardles of the publishing medium she uses.

    The decision to allow other journalists & not Elaine was inappropriate. Usually, judges like this one has a few skeletons in the family closet. They create bias in decisions. This one defintely doesn’t have the children’s interests in mind. What a piece of work. Jerk of the Month is being kind.


  31. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 2:08 pm:

    Vinron - It would be great if you’d post a link to the Appellate Court decision in the 4th District.

    I’m not sure if I agree with your assessment that judges can do whatever they want based on that decision, but lets keep a few things in mind about the Appellate Court in the 4th District in 1990:

    - Not a single Democrat on the Appellate Bench
    - Not a single Democratic judge in Champaign County

    It would not surprise me to see Republican judges upholding the right of other Republican judges to operate beyond public scrutiny, but that’s no reason to toss aside a plain reading of the statute. Especially where the life-safety of a child is involved.

    Judges can ban the “general public”, but not the “news media” from juvenile court proceedings. The judge can and routinely does bar the “news media” from identifying the minor. Everyone one is protected — except bad judges and state’s attorneys who cover up for them.


  32. - Ghost - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 2:17 pm:

    Rich, you may want to use the word traditional then in place of local (not to split hairs).

    But, to those who claim the story is being covered (without a reporter present this seems a dubious coverage) it is irrelevant. Even if there had other journalists present, it was still a jerk thing to exclude anyone present who was seeking to report what was happening. More so where there was no one eles, but this is not the critical point. That the story appears on the AP wire, a newspaper, or an internet blog matters not.

    The statutes permissive presence for the media establishes that the proceedings are intended to be public knowledge. So there can not be a great privacy expectation to begin with. I think this provision has little to do with privacy, but more to do with de-ecalating the hearings. These are highl charged hearings, and letting in the family members, friends and sympathisers has great potential for violence. The media allows for the contents of the hearing to be viewed and viewable by the public, but excluding the public at large helps to keep emotional outbursts and responses from the gallery. In short, its not about privacy, the intent is for it to all be publicly available, its about keeping charged subject matter under control during hearings.


  33. - Billy Dennis - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 2:17 pm:

    peoriamedia: The problem might be due to the fact that the JS puts most of it’s storied behind a paid firewall. When stories aren’t browsed, they don’t rank high in google rankings.


  34. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 2:22 pm:

    billy, I searched the PJ-Star’s website and found nothing.


  35. - Vinron - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 2:46 pm:

    YDD -
    I can’t post a link to that opinion, it is 6 yrs too old to be found on the court’s website. I’m not going to post it on the ‘net anywhere either, lest the two Gods of legal publishing for profit bring the hammer down on me. JUST found that the decision was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Illinois in 149 Ill.2d 247 (1992), with dissent from Justices Miller and Heiple. I’ll have to look at that decision later.

    I agree that the judge can’t kick the media out of juvie court for any reason, but the judge “has discretion to determine the best way to conduct juvenile proceedings” according to the 4th — so it would be difficult to get such a decision reversed on appeal.

    Perhaps the issue is whether juvenile court proceedings should be closed to the public. Several states are moving away from that. Illinois, not surprisingly, is not on the lead on this issue.

    Also, how much of a blog would be necessary to be in the media? I could start ten blogs today, but not regularly post any entries. Do we have a minimum content requirement? Do we really want a judge to decide based on the content of the publication?


  36. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 2:48 pm:

    Vinron, we’re not talking about “any blog.” Don’t obfuscate. We’re talking about the particular blog in question.


  37. - Vinron - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 2:50 pm:

    BTW, I think Elaine did a series on DCFS about 5 years ago when she wrote for PJS — mothers losing kids for staying with paramours/boyfriends who abused the mothers (I think).

    Probably have to pay to access that series from PJS.


  38. - Vinron - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 2:58 pm:

    Rich,
    We’re about 10-20 years from ‘which blog’ mattering. Many judges stay away from computers altogether. (I have no knowledge about Judge Purham). Search google, recently a judge presiding over a terrorism trial in Great Britain admitted that he did not know what a website was.

    I was talking about changing the definition of news media to keep up w/technology. That’s relevant to this conversation and whether the judge made the right decision, IMO. There is no question in my mind that Ms. Hopkins’ blog should be considered news media, esp. with her years of experience in print media.


  39. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 3:00 pm:

    Vinron, thanks. But if you’re talking about “changing the definition of news media” in the statutes, I would be unalterably opposed. No way should the government dictate in statute what is and isn’t the news media or who is and isn’t a journalist.


  40. - Vinron - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 3:12 pm:

    Good point, Rich. I was talking about broadening the current definitions or at least bringing them into the 21st century. The definitions are already there. As a previous commenter said, having a blogger.com account doesn’t make you a journalist.

    Are you saying the term shouldn’t be defined at all? Or just on a case by case basis?

    Lawyers get nervous when you take definitions out of statutes or contracts. How can they find loopholes and technicalities then?


  41. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 3:15 pm:

    It should not be defined in statutes. The government has no business deciding that issue. Period.


  42. - Rob_N - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 4:44 pm:

    The definition of “news” is “a report of a recent event; intelligence; information.”

    It was Ms. Hopkins intent to self-publish “a report of a recent event; intelligence; information” and that was her reason for being in the courtroom.

    Ergo, Ms. Hopkins is a self-publishing “news media” entity.

    It doesn’t matter what medium she uses to self-publish the news she reports.

    It doesn’t matter if she has a liberal or conservative bent to her reportage.

    It doesn’t matter if she is an independent writer or affiliated with a known news organization.

    Not only does the relevant ILCS act say so, the first amendment to our national Constitution says so.


  43. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 6:26 pm:

    Again, I’d like to read the entire appellate decision in its entirety. Perhaps you could forward it to capitolfax and they could put it online.

    In the meantime, perhaps we should start a legal fund for Hopkins and ask the ACLU to take up her case.

    I get the feeling the Illinois Press Association isn’t interested, but I could be wrong. :-)


  44. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 6:33 pm:

    And not to beat a dead horse and our Jerk-of-theMonth any further, but according to the Pew Center:

    - Some 15% of all American adults say the internet was the place where they got most of their campaign news during the [2006] election, up from 7% in the mid-term election of 2002.

    - 20% of campaign internet users say they got political news and information from blogs

    - convenience is the top reason people use the internet to get political news information and that the majority of campaign internet users go to the websites of mainstream news organizations. At the same time, though, a majority of internet users go to non-traditional sites such as blogs, humor and satire sites like The Daily Show, international sites, alternative sites, candidate and government sites.

    [Emphasis added]


  45. - Anonymous ZZZ - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 6:37 pm:

    Rich, why shouldn’t the government define what “news media” should include? They lay out definitions all the time in the statute. The Act that YDD cited defines “adult”, “parent”, “legal custody” and a whole host of other things that would seem more clear-cut than “news media.” I know this question has been brought up before, Rich, but I haven’t really seen an answer: Without a clear-cut definition of “news media” in the statutes, what is there to stop someone who just barfs up their opinions on the news of the day via a blog and doesn’t do any real fact-checking from being allowed to enter these hearings?


  46. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 6:44 pm:

    Because if the government can decide who a reporter is, then they can prevent reporters from doing their jobs.


  47. - Anonymous ZZZ - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 6:52 pm:

    I understand where you’re coming from, Rich, and you have a good point, but again - what’s stopping any goofball with a blog from being able to attend these sorts of things? Don’t you think there should be SOME standards in place?


  48. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 7:01 pm:

    This particular blogger has to be defended because she is doing journalism. The family was OK with her presence.

    In these hearings, the judge obviously has some discretion, but he was a jerk about it… “so-called blog.” Indeed.

    I don’t think we need to fear bloggers. Everybody always wants to present the worst case and suggest government intervention. When has there ever been a real problem with allowing bloggers into things? The controversy about their “being” is way overblown.

    When I first started in this business, there were people who wanted me to go away and did some things to make that happen. It didn’t work. So, I’m obviously sensitive to these matters. But any attempt to try and define me in state statute as a journalist or as not a journalist would be met with a very severe reaction. Trust me on that.

    The government needs to stay out of the news business. Once we let the government define us, they can control us.


  49. - Anonymous ZZZ - Thursday, Jul 26, 07 @ 9:17 pm:

    I agree that the judge’s reference to “so-called blogs” was demeaning. I’m also not questioning Ms. Hopkins’ credibility. I don’t fear bloggers; I just think this case brings up some food for thought - that’s all.


  50. - Anon - Saturday, Jul 28, 07 @ 12:41 am:

    Knowing Judge Purham, there is likely no precise ruling. He’s an old Peoria County prosecutor who worked in the same office with Lucas before becoming a judge, no surprise he takes thier side. Juvenile Court is a kangaroo court if there ever was one in the USA; hell, people who steal TVs get more legal rights than people who get caught up in the juvenile court meat grinder.


  51. Pingback So now it’s STUPID so-called bloggers | Peoria Pundits - Thursday, Aug 9, 07 @ 11:49 am:

    […] And the Rich Miller post in question makes it clear that this isn’t about bloggers being ticked off for their own sakes, but because the issues in question need and deserve coverage. […]


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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