The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Z_CNHI News Service

September 27, 2013

EDITORIALS: Shield law needed; No more excuses for inaction on global warming

Shield law must provide broad protections

(The Mankato Free Press / Mankato, Minn.)

On the heels of revelations that the Justice Department had seized the phone records of Associated Press reporters and had traced the emails and calls of a Fox News reporter, Congress seems willing to provide federal protections for journalists and their sources.

Although many states have so-called “shield laws” to protect journalists and their sources, there is no such protection from federal subpoenas or court orders forcing reporters to reveal confidential information or sources.

Because the Supreme Court has never ruled that the First Amendment protects journalists from being compelled to identify confidential information, the federal government has at times gone after journalists to learn the identities of their sources.

Under proposed legislation in Congress, journalists would not have to comply with subpoenas or court orders forcing them to talk, unless a judge first determines a crime has occurred and the government has exhausted all other alternatives. Final bills could be approved by the end of the year.

While there is general support for a federal shield law in Congress and by journalism organizations, a key sticking point has been the seemingly simple question of defining “journalist.”

The draft bill defines a journalist as someone who has a “primary intent to investigate events and procure material” to inform the public. All agree a reporter working for a newspaper, news service or broadcast outlet would be protected. Harder to pin down is whether bloggers and others who use the Internet to disseminate news would be protected.

Some Senators would like to broaden the definition of journalists under the law while still others would like to narrow it even more, fearing that too-broad a definition could protect groups like WikiLeaks.

The existing language in the bill seems to do a good job of balancing various concerns, providing a fairly broad protection to traditional and new journalists without getting tangled up in minutia. And the legislation would provide a safety valve in tricky cases, giving federal judges the discretion to extend protection to people who might not meet the exact criteria of a “journalist” under the bill’s definition.

Text Only
Z_CNHI News Service
Photos


Poll

Do you believe America will ever make another manned flight to the moon or another planet?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee