While I was in San Francisco, an important court decision was announced. A California appellate court ruled that the constitutional provisions for a free press, and the California shield laws, apply to bloggers as well as to print and television journalists. Holding that these protections encompass the activity of journalism, not the specific medium in which the journalism appears, the court found that bloggers are protected from being compelled to reveal sources.
Because the decision is an interpretation of California law, it does not mean that bloggers in other parts of the country can assume that they are protected. Still, even in the absence of a federal shield law, this will provide an important precedent.
So, at least while I am working in California, it appears that I cannot be compelled in a court of law to name my muse.
But here's something to consider. There have been several episodes in the short history of the blog when it has been learned that bloggers writing in favor of particular candidates were actually in the pay of the campaigns. At that point, does one cease to be a practitioner of journalism and become something else? Should paid bloggers be required to reveal the sources of their support?