What does "prate" mean?

What does "prate" mean?

From http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prate:
To talk long and idly : CHATTER

Eno River Sunrise

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Who is a Journalist?

In general I would put this question in the category of "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" in that it is only interesting to a very small subset of society.  However, we have seen ongoing attempts to limit the applicability of First Amendment protection of freedom of the press.  That amendment was designed to protect everyone; now there is an ongoing attempt to limit certain aspects of these protections to officially certified press and journalists.

One manifestation of this narrowing is the creation of journalistic "shield laws."  The intent of these laws may be noble as they to provide protection for investigation and reporting of malfeasance.  However, they may only apply to officially designated journalists.  For example, the AP reported on December 7, 2011 that:
A federal judge in Oregon has ruled that a Montana woman sued for defamation was not a journalist when she posted online that an Oregon lawyer acted criminally during a bankruptcy case, a decision with implications for bloggers around the country.

Crystal L. Cox, a blogger from Eureka, Mont., was sued for defamation by attorney Kevin Padrick when she posted online that he was a thug and a thief during the handling of bankruptcy proceedings by him and Obsidian Finance Group LLC.
The law in question in the Cox case was a state law, but the trend is larger.  On September 12, 2013 AP reported the following:
A Senate panel on Thursday approved legislation designed to protect reporters and the news media from having to reveal their confidential sources after narrowing the definition of a journalist and establishing which formats - traditional and online - provide news to people worldwide.


The compromise also says that information is only privileged if it is disseminated by a news medium, described as "newspaper, nonfiction book, wire service, news agency, news website, mobile application or other news or information service (whether distributed digitally or otherwise); news program, magazine or other periodical, whether in print, electronic or other format; or thorough television or radio broadcast ... or motion picture for public showing."

While the definition covers traditional and online media, it draws the line at posts on Twitter, blogs or social media from non-journalists.
I personally find this astounding.  I sometimes interview people to provide material for blogs.  These interviews are almost always done confidentially because the people are not authorized to make public statements regarding their companies.  This is exactly the same situation that "official" reporters are in for many of their stories.  However, they would be afforded shield protection, and I wouldn't.  

We seem to be on a path to constrict the definition of the "press".  No longer will it be the larger world of non-verbal communications, whether pencil, ink, electronic, sign language or smoke signals.  Now it will be the narrow world of J-school grads writing for the AP.


  1. The trend is, indeed, alarming and speaks to the fraying of our constitutional protections generally. I appreciate this topic and shared it. Thanks for blogging.

  2. Join the conversation on LinkedIn!