The House version of the bill would only apply to people who glean significant revenue from journalism, though a broader bill in the Senate would cover anyone "engaged in journalism," the Citizen Media Law Project reports.
Many people in the media world would welcome a federal shield law, but there's no good reason for it to involve some sort of income test. While it's not clear that differentiating between "professional" and "citizen" journalists would have ever been useful in deciding which sources are worthy of protection, it seems especially arbitrary given that anyone with a cell phone can now break news on the Web.
Most states currently have shield laws and at least some courts have already ruled that those laws apply to bloggers. In one well-publicized case, a court in California ruled that three bloggers who wrote about Apple were allowed to preserve their sources' anonymity. "The shield law is intended to protect the gathering and dissemination of news, and that is what petitioners did here," the California appellate court wrote in that case. "We can think of no workable test or principle that would distinguish 'legitimate' from 'illegitimate' news."