In our last update on the pending JCOPE lawsuit, we reported that while the lawsuit was making its way through the courts, Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced a new ethics bill.  The proposed legislation specifically excluded “communications with a professional journalist, or newscaster, including an editorial board or editorial writer of a newspaper, magazine, news agency, press association, or wire service, relating to news.”  As well as “communications relating to confidential and non-confidential news…and communications made pursuant to community outreach efforts for broadcast stations required by federal law.”  At that time, we were optimistic that this proposed legislation would address the industry's concerns about the confusion surrounding lobbying and public relations activities.
Unfortunately, even when the Governor signs the new legislation, the plaintiffs in the JCOPE lawsuit remain concerned about communications with members of the informal press, such as bloggers, who do not fall under the statutory definition of “professional journalists.”  The plaintiffs are also concerned about JCOPE’s attempt to regulate communications with any other “third parties,” a category of conduct that remains both over expansive and inadequately defined, even when “professional journalists” are excluded.  So, until these issues are addressed this lawsuit will continue to move forward.