AD Main Menu

Alaska blogger Andrew Halcro the Larry Bird of journalism?

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

A pro-Joe Miller blogger is taking issue with Andrew Halcro’s defense of journalist privileges regarding Miller’s litigation with Halco over fallout from the 2010 election.

Attorneys for Joe Miller, erstwhile Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, have challenged the refusal of Andrew Halcro, prominent political commentator and former Alaska state representative, to name the source of rumors he published questioning the circumstances of Miller's departure from part-time employment with the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

The argument is a part of Miller's litigation with the Borough claiming that elements of his employment record were leaked improperly in the run up to the election. Miller's attorneys deposed Halcro in February as part of those proceedings, and Halcro refused to name his source, citing reporter privilege granted by Alaska's media shield laws.

Miller's challenge seeks to compel Halcro to name names. The argument rests on the claim that such laws don't protect people who are unaffiliated with a standard media for a political candidate. Halcro supported GOP incumbent U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who was victorious as a write-in candidate.

“He is therefore a political blogger, not a news reporter,” Miller's motion in part concludes. “He does not present information to the public through a news organization, and therefore cannot assert this statutorily based privilege."

Halcro’s lawyer responded, claiming that Halcro regularly acts in the capacity of a journalist, and a journalist's right to protect his or her sources has long been established in courts.

However, as Thomas Lamb points out in a recent piece on RedCountry.com, Halcro blogged in 2008 that as a blogger, he didn’t have the responsibility to act in ways that a traditional journalist would.

That was in response to a panel Halcro sat on with among others, Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger, who was arguing anonymity in blogging.

“(B)loggers aren't journalist,” Halcro wrote in response. “Having a blog makes me no more of a journalist than shooting hoops in my driveway makes me Larry Bird. Having a blog simply means I'm a guy with time on my hands, thoughts on my mind and a computer within reach.”

Halcro announced last week that he is not running for office this year because, in "addition to family and client commitments, I remain embroiled in a time-consuming, legal case litigating First Amendment rights of online journalists such as myself."