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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Federal shield law may be on the way

The Free Flow of Information Act of 2009 is a dream for journalists who worry about going to jail for not revealing confidential sources. Journalists would only be forced to relinquish this qualified privilege in cases that involve issues such as national security or threats of imminent bodily harm.
Citing the need for a federal media shield law to protect reporters from being compelled to reveal their confidential news sources, U.S. Representatives Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Mike Pence (R-IN) today introduced the Free Flow of Information Act of 2009. In the 110th Congress, the measure Boucher and Pence advanced was approved by an overwhelming, bipartisan majority of 398 to 21 in the House of Representatives. The Senate did not take up the measure in the last Congress. Boucher and Pence are joined in sponsorship of the bill by 37 of their colleagues in the House, including Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) and Vice Ranking Member of the Committee, Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

"Often the best source of information about public corruption or misdeeds in a large corporation or charity is a person on the inside of the organization who would like to bring the facts to public light, but that person has a lot to lose and to avoid punishment at the hands of superiors will only divulge the information to a reporter if promised confidentiality," Boucher said. "If confidentiality cannot be assured, the public may never learn of the wrong doing and never have an opportunity to take corrective action," he added.

Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia currently have statutes protecting reporters from the compelled disclosure of sources of information.

More here.

1 comment:

Tom Mannis said...

Ms. Detillier,
You should read HR 985 more carefully. It only protects people who report on current events IF they do so "for a substantial portion of the person's livelihood or for substantial financial gain and includes a supervisor, employer, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of such covered person." In other words, it is more of a nightmare than it is a dream.