Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Reporters Committee calls for shield law

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press today issued a statement calling for a coordinated effort to support a federal shield law in the wake of the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia Circuit today that two prominent journalists do not have a privilege to keep sources of information from a federal grand jury.

"The decision in this case underscores that these are perilous times for journalists and the public's right to know," said Reporters Committee Executive Director Lucy Dalglish. "There are more than two dozen cases pending across the United States where journalists are being asked to operate as investigators for the government and litigants. The ability of the media to act as independent sources of information for the public is in jeopardy."

The shield bills current under consideration in Congress were introduced in early February by Reps. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and Rick Boucher (D-Va.) in the House (H.R. 581), and by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) in the Senate (S. 3440). A similar bill was introduced late in the last congress by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), but no action was taken.

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