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Judge Rules That a Blogger Is Not a Journalist; Orders Her to Pay $2.5 Million in Defamation Suit

Crystal Cox was sued for defamation by an investment firm after she wrote several posts critical of the company and its co-founder.

Is a blogger the same thing as a journalist? A U.S. District Court judge doesn't think so.

Judge Marco Hernandez has ruled that a Portland, Ore.-based blogger must pay $2.5 million to an investment firm that sued her for defamation because she is not a journalist and therefore not afforded protection under Oregon's media shield law, the Seattle Weekly reported.

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Crystal Cox runs several law-centric blogs, including industrywhistleblower.com, judicialhellhole.com and obsidianfinancesucks.com, the latter of which centers on Obsidian Finance Group. The company in January sued her for defamation, seeking $10 million, after she wrote several critical posts about the company and its co-founder, Kevin Padrick.

Cox, who represented herself in court, argued that the case should be dismissed and that her posts blended facts, commentary and opinion.

But Hernandez refused to dismiss the case. He threw out all except one of the blog posts cited by Obsidian, which he ruled was defamatory because it was presented in a more factual tone than the rest of her writing. She said it was because she based the post on information given to her from an inside source.

However, Cox declined to name her source, and thus her information could not be proven as true. Hernandez ruled that Cox did not qualify for protection under Oregon's media shield law since she was not "affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network or cable television system."

Cox said she plans to appeal the ruling by providing evidence that Padrick is guilty of bankruptcy fraud but has no plans to hire an attorney.