Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Are Bloggers Journalists? Is Thaddeus Matthews?

Posted By on Tue, Feb 19, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Shortly after 18-year-old Dexter Cox was arrested in the homicide case of Memphis Police Lieutenant Edward Vidulich, blogger Thaddeus Matthews released Cox's leaked police statement on his website.

Matthews is refusing to release the name of the person who leaked the documents, and Memphis Police director Larry Godwin has launched an investigation. The issue has raised a debate as to whether or not Matthews should be protected by the state's shield law, which protects journalists from revealing their sources.

Matthews will discuss the issue at "Are Bloggers Journalists?", a forum at the Meeman Journalism Auditorium on the University of Memphis campus on Friday, Feb. 22 at 12:30 p.m. The free event is hosted by the University of Memphis chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists.

According to the leaked document, Cox shot Vidulich in self-defense during a tussle with the officer in his home. Cox said he'd gone to Vidulich's house to impart information about recent robbery at the Vidulich's Frayser residence. In the statement, Cox says that the alleged robber had confiscated sex photographs featuring Vidulich and his wife in compromising positions, and Cox was demanding money for their return.

If subpoenaed, Matthews would be the first member of the non-traditional media to test the state's shield law.

For Flyer columnist John Branston's take on the issue, go here.

--Bianca Phillips

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