Court grants media cred to bloggers for 'Scooter' Libby trial

Tech Culture

It won't be only throngs of the so-called mainstream media filing dispatches from the trial of former senior White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby, set to begin in Washington next week.

Resolving a lingering conundrum previously reported by CNET News.com, bloggers have been cleared to occupy two of the reportedly 100 seats promised to reporters, the Media Bloggers Association, an organization devoted to cultivating "citizen journalism," announced on its blog (where else?) this week.

Founder and president Bob Cox described the credentialing agreement between his organization and the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia as the first "high-profile opportunity" granted to bloggers.

The potentially lengthy event should allow a number of member bloggers to rotate coverage, Cox said. Jury selection for the case involving the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, who has been accused of lying to the FBI and a grand jury about conversations with reporters, is set to begin on Tuesday, and the trial is expected to last four to six weeks.

The bloggers plan to work not from the courtroom itself but from an overflow room, which they've been assured by court officials will be equipped with wireless Internet access. Their posts will be aggregated at the association's Web site.

Sheldon Snook, administrative assistant to Chief Judge Thomas Hogan, said court officials agreed to the set-up because "bloggers can bring a depth of reporting that some traditional media organizations aren't able to achieve because of space and time limitations," according to a story in Thursday's Washington Post.

Whatever the reason, the development could prove critical as members of Congress work to formulate "shield laws," which are designed to prevent journalists from having to divulge confidential sources. Debate has swirled over whether bloggers should be protected by proposed legislation, with some voicing doubts.

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