US Judge Hits Blogger Crystal Cox With $2.5M Charge for Not Being a Journalist

A federal judge in Portland, Oregon, said that a Montana blogger was not a journalist when she posted that an Oregon lawyer acted criminally while a trustee in a real estate bankruptcy case.

The woman said in Portland district court that she should have the same legal rights as journalists have. Photo: Arcanoe/ Flickr

Blogger Crystal Cox  in the US state of Oregon is ordered by a court to pay $2.5 million to an investment company because of an illegal posting.

Crystal Cox was taken to court by investment company Obsidian Finance Group for having written some blog posts that were highly critical of the firm and its CEO Kevin Padrick.

The firm stated the posts as defamatory ones and filed a $10 million lawsuit against Cox last winter. The blog containing a mixture of facts, commentary and opinion were based on material supplied by an inside source who was leaking her information. Obsidian demanded she reveal the source of her information to prove its veracity.

Cox considered herself to be a journalist and that is why should be protected by media shield laws that allow journalists not to reveal their sources.

By the way, Oregon’s shield law says: “No person connected with, employed by or engaged in any medium of communication to the public shall be required by a legislative, executive or judicial officer or body, or any other authority having power to compel testimony or the production of evidence, to disclose, by subpoena or otherwise:”

 (a) The source of any published or unpublished information obtained by the person in the course of gathering, receiving or processing information for any medium of communication to the public; or

(b) Any unpublished information obtained or prepared by the person in the course of gathering, receiving or processing information for any medium of communication to the public.

So, the blogger tried to prove that she is one of ‘any medium of communication’.

Unfortunately, US District Judge Marco Hernandez had another opinion: “Although [the] defendant is a self-proclaimed ‘investigative blogger’ and defines herself as ‘media,’ the record fails to show that she is affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system. Thus, she is not entitled to the protections of the law.”

The law representative also added that even if Cox had qualified for shield law protections, they would not have applied to protecting the identity of the source of allegedly defamatory content in a civil trial. “Because this case is a civil action for defamation, defendant cannot rely on the media shield law,” he said.

Cox, who runs several sites, including such as, said: “This should matter to everyone who writes on the internet.”

The talks over whether bloggers are journalists has been going on for years, but the consensus has been finally found — on the opposite side of what Judge Hernandez has ruled.

A representative Bruce E. H. Johnson, who wrote the media shield laws in next-door Washington State, told reporters that those laws would have protected Cox if her case had been tried in Washington.

After the court decision, Cox posted a number of updates to her Obsidian Finance blog. In her posts she argues against the judge’s ruling and cites the publicity the case has garnered as a victory for her.

When asked whether she would appeal the ruling Cox added, “I do plan to appeal. That’s all I can say on that.” [Via Mashable and The Guardian]

Share this article

We welcome comments that advance the story directly or with relevant tangential information. We try to block comments that use offensive language, all capital letters or appear to be spam, and we review comments frequently to ensure they meet our standards. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Coinspeaker Ltd.