Contact: Sheila Owens, NAA
August 1, 2007
Federal Protection of Confidential Sources One Step Closer to Enactment
Washington — A vote today by the House Judiciary Committee to pass the Free Flow of Information Act (H.R. 2102) was applauded by more than 40 media companies and organizations who have been working for federal protection of journalists’ confidential sources. Similar legislation (S. 1267) is awaiting action by the Senate.
Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia offer some degree of shield law protection, while an additional 17 have seen judicial decisions supporting the safeguarding of confidential sources’ identities. There currently is no protection, however, at the federal level, evidenced by a recent spate of federal subpoenas that have threatened to and actually put reporters behind bars.
Paul Boyle, senior vice president of public policy at the Newspaper Association of America, issued the following statement on behalf of the media coalition:
“We appreciate the efforts of all the lawmakers who supported this measure, particularly its champions, Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.). We look forward to the floor vote, which could bring a federal shield law one step closer to enactment.”
“While news organizations prefer to have their sources on-the-record whenever possible, there are times when sources will not come forward without the promise of confidentiality. Groundbreaking stories − such as conditions at Walter Reed Medical Center, the Enron scandal and steroid abuse in Major League Baseball − would not have been known to the public – or to the Congress – without confidential sources.
“If sources – including government and private sector whistleblowers – are uncertain whether reporters have adequate protection they will not come forward and the public dialogue on important issues will diminish. Continued pressure on reporters to reveal the identities of confidential sources also will alter the daily communications between government officials and the press – an interaction that has benefited our democratic society well for 231 years.
“The Free Flow of Information Act establishes important ground rules that balance the public interest in both the free flow of information and the fair administration of justice. By enacting a federal shield law, the Congress can ensure that all parties – journalists, sources, prosecutors, civil litigants and courts alike – can rely on consistent and well-articulated standards of procedure.”
For more information about the legislation, NAA.org/Government-and-Legal.aspx
A list of the media companies and organizations supporting the Free Flow of Information Act follows.
Organizations/Companies Supporting the “Free Flow of Information Act” (H.R. 2102)
Advance Publications, Inc.
American Business Media
American Society of Newspaper Editors
Association of Alternative Newsweeklies
Association of American Publishers
Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors
Coalition of Journalists for Open Government
The Copley Press, Inc.
Cox Enterprises, Inc
Daily News, L.P
Freedom Communications, Inc.
Gannett Co., Inc.
Magazine Publishers of America
The McClatchy Company
The McGraw-Hill Companies
Media Law Resource Center
National Association of Broadcasters
National Federation of Press Women
National Newspaper Association
National Press Club
National Press Photographers Association
National Public Radio
Newspaper Association of America
The Newspaper Guild-CWA
The New York Times Company
Online News Association
Radio-Television News Directors Association
Raycom Media, Inc.,
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
E. W. Scripps
Society of Professional Journalists
The Walt Disney Company
The Washington Post
White House Correspondents’ Association