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A Federal shield law for journalists is in public's best interest

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wishlist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 09:51 AM
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A Federal shield law for journalists is in public's best interest
Interesting editorial in Asheville N.C. Citizen-Times talks about the Plain Dealer sitting on two crucial reports they have shelved due for fear of investigation of leaks.:

"What happened to Miller may well inhibit the flow of vital information to the public. For example, according to a story in the industry publication Editor & Publisher, Doug Clifton, editor of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, said his newspaper is not reporting two major investigative stories because they are based on illegally leaked documents and the paper fears the kind of consequences faced by Miller.

The reporters say, Well, were willing to go to jail, and Im willing to go to jail if it gets laid on me, Clifton said, But the newspaper isnt willing to go to jail. Thats what the lawyers have told us.

In a column on June 30, Clifton wrote, Two stories of profound importance languish in our hands. The public would be well served to know them, but both are based on documents leaked to us by people who would face deep trouble for having leaked them. Publishing the stories would almost certainly lead to a leak investigation and the ultimate choice, talk or go to jail. Because talking isnt an option and jail is too high a price to pay, these two stories will go untold for now.

Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia already have shield laws. They have recognized that the media needs to be able to fulfill its role as a watchdog that keeps the electorate informed without worrying that reporters may have to sacrifice either their integrity or their freedom. Other states have recognized a reporters privilege as a result of judicial decisions. But there is no shield law that applies to federal courts."
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Gyre Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 09:57 AM
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1. The presss hasn't been doing their "watchdog" job anyways
Who gives a damn if they've got sources to quote? They're just making stuff up anyways or acting as a WH echo-chamber.

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htuttle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 10:11 AM
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2. How would they define WHO gets this protection?
One thing I haven't heard mentioned much in this debate is how they would define who would be protected by a shield law.

When they are talking about other confidentiality protections (clergy, doctors and spouses), there are already legal definitions (and regulations) concerning who is included. Doctors are licensed, clergy are 'ordained' (or equivalent) by a recognized (meaning tax-exempt) religious institution, and spouses have a marriage license.

Would this lead to the necessity of licensing (and thereby regulating) journalists? Do we want that? Could a shield law work without having some sort of legal eligibility requirement for those who would be protected by it?

Not sure this is a route we want to go (in fact, I'm rather sure it wouldn't be).

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K-W Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 10:19 AM
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3. Judith Miller is abusing her (questionable)journalist status.
And does not belong in a discussion about a journalistic shield law.
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