Kaufman vs. Islamic Society of Arlington, Texas, Islamic Center of Irving, DFW Islamic Educational Center, INC., Dar Elsalam Islamic Center, Al Hedayah Islamic Center, Islamic Association of Tarrannt County and Muslim American Society of Dallas. No. 2-09-023-CV. January 22, 2009.
This court of appeals decision from Texas rules on the case of Kaufman, the author of an online article asserting that Islamic extremists and terrorists were invading Six Flags during their Muslim Family Day. The court decided in favor of Kaufman, arguing that his article did not refer to any of the groups that filed suit against him, and that a 'reasonable reader' would in no way link the groups and implicate the Islamic groups in question with the groups mentioned by Kaufman as terrorist affiliated. The court asserts that "...an internet author's status as a member of the electronic media should be adjudged by the same principles that courts should use to determine the author's status under more traditional media." It's decision classifies Kaufman as an 'online journalist' and argues that his legal rights are thus equal to those of traditional journalists.
Though the court's decision in favor of Kaufman holds little bearing on my thesis, their ruling affects the validity and status of online journalism because it equates it with print and traditional journalism. They argued that a blogger writing without an editor and without performing investigation and substantiation of their claims would not necessarliy be considered an online journalist and would not necessarily receive the same legal rights as online journalists like Kaufman. The questions is, of course, what makes Kaufman a 'journalist'. The court quoted U.S.C.A 552(a)(4)(A)(ii) (West Supp. 2009), arguing that media includes "any 'person or entity that gathers information of potential interest to a segment of the public, uses its editorial skills to turn the way materials into a distinct work, and distributes that work to an audience.'" By this measure, bloggers who discuss news (as opposed to just personal experience and opinion) are certainly included in the realm of online media.