West Virginia has a great shield law, although I wish it was better by only one word. I do not know what substantial means, although I would argue that the income in its different forms I receive from this blog entitle me to protection under the shield law. The key line in this law is in bold.
57.3.10: “Reporter” means a person who regularly gathers, prepares, collects, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports, or publishes news or information that concerns matters of public interest for dissemination to the public for a substantial portion of the person’s livelihood, or a supervisor, or employer of that person in that capacity: Provided, That a student reporter at an accredited educational institution who meets all of the requirements of this definition, except that his or her reporting may not provide a portion of his or her livelihood, meets the definition of reporter for purposes of this section.
Also, read here…
Third, an individual successfully may assert the journalist’s privilege if he is involved in activities traditionally associated with the gathering and dissemination of news, even though he may not ordinarily be a member of the institutionalized press.
Better is the first circuit (case law):
The First Circuit has extended the reporter’s privilege to cover parties other than those engaged in traditional journalism and reporting, such as professors and research analysts. In particular, the courts have extended the privilege to publications where the author intends, at the time of his research, to publicly disseminate the information.
Nothing in this regard has reached the Fourth Circuit (my circuit in West Virginia). To see where your state and federal circuit court stands, click here.
Anyway… just a thought, but wouldn’t chap someone’s hide if I started calling myself a bible scholar AND an investigative journalist?
Now, I’m going to dig a hole in my back yard and call myself an archaeologist.