This week, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge gave me the pleasure of being able to tell people that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a journalist. Soon his eyes will begin to strain from staring at screens, he’ll never go outside, and he’ll spend most of his spare time refreshing Twitter.
The question of whether Johnson can legally be considered a reporter came up when he received a subpoena from one of the subjects of his 2017 HBO documentary Rock and a Hard Place, about a boot-camp program that serves as an alternative to juveniles facing prison time. A former correctional officer featured in the film was facing bribery charges and her lawyers argued “that outtakes from the documentary would help prove her innocence,” according to Page Six.
HBO said no, citing New York’s shield laws that protect journalistic privilege. The other side said The Rock was not entitled to that privilege because he is a celebrity and argued that the documentary could be considered a reality TV show. A judge disagreed, stating that, based on his work, The Rock can technically be classified as a journalist.
But the decision is bittersweet, as the judge also said basically anyone can be a journalist under New York’s shield laws. (Which is also what my parents say when I tell them what I do everyday.) Here’s Page Six on the judge’s decision:
“The statute very broadly defines a ‘professional journalist’ as anyone gathering ‘news intended for dissemination to the public’ in some sort of professional capacity,” she wrote in the ruling.
Whatever—democracy dies in darkness, so the more, the merrier.