The Nevada Supreme Court ruled today that online reporters are indeed reporters and can enjoy the protection of Reporter Shield laws. This ruling is a major victory for online publications,
Justices Unanimously Agree: Online Journalists are Real Journalists
In its unanimous decision, Chief Justice Mark Gibbons wrote that “Just because a newspaper can exist online, it does not mean it ceases to be a newspaper. To hold otherwise would be to create an absurd result in direct contradiction of the rules of statutory interpretation.”
The question arose from a narrow interpretation of Nevada’s Reporter Shield Law by Judge James Wilson. Earlier this year, Judge Wilson ruled that because I didn’t join the Nevada Press Association until August of 2017, I was unable to enjoy the protection of Nevada’s Reporter Shield Law between February and August of 2017.
Because of Wilson’s narrow ruling, lawyers for Lance Gilman could depose me and force me to reveal sources of information I obtained that I later used to write a piece that Gilman claimed was defamatory. The Supreme Court halted further action in the matter pending today’s decision.
The case now returns to Judge Wilson’s court. He must reconsider his previous motion to compel me to disclose sources based on the new interpretation of the Court.
Gilman’s lawyers were able to convince Judge Wilson that the statements made in the article in question were potentially defamatory. However, Gilman was unable to prove actual malice. Malice is a key component of a defamatory statement.
We now await further action from Judge Wilson.
Major Victory for Nevada Journalists
At a time when it is more difficult and dangerous to be a journalist, I am encouraged by Nevada’s Supreme Court’s ruling. The ruling confirms what I believe everyone takes for granted in today’s digital age; online journalists are real journalists and deserve the protection of Reporter Shield Laws.
Today’s decision is a major victory for journalists in Nevada and across the country.
What Others Are Saying About The Ruling