The 'are bloggers journalists?' debate is gathering momentum on the Christian Science Monitor (CSM), website as correspondent Randy Dotinga explores whether bloggers should be given the same level of protection.

The question has become an urgent one as a Californian court will shortly decide whether 19-year-old blogger Nicholas Ciarelli is entitled to the same 'shield' laws as journalists, which means they do not have to reveal their sources. Mr Ciarelli is being sued by computer giant Apple after publishing details of its new products on his blog before the official product launch.

Attorney Kurt Opsahl believes if bloggers are forced to reveal their sources, the public will lose a vital alternative voice for news.

However, law professor Randall Bezanson believes expressing opinions to a small audience is not the same as practising journalism. If it were the case, he said, expressing his own views in a letter to his mother should also be covered by the free press clause.

CSM readers have been voting on the issue. So far 57 per cent have said that bloggers are major players in public affairs and deserve the same protection.

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