Monday, June 27, 2005

High court declines to hear Miller, Cooper appeals

The Supreme Court issued an order today denying to hear the appeals of reporters Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper. The order stated:
"The petitions for writs of certiorari are denied. Justice Breyer took no part in the consideration or decision of these petitions."

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Supreme Court to consider confidential sources

At its private conference tomorrow, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether to hear the appeal of reporters Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper, who face possible imprisonment for refusing to divulge their sources, Legal Times reports.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Freelancers should file claims under Tasini

If you published articles on a freelance basis since 1978, you may be eligible to receive additional payment for your work. A Web site devoted to the class action provides claim forms and complete details. I've posted more information at my LawSites blog.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Judge creates exception to state's absolute shield law

Even though Pennsylvania law provides unqualified protection against journalists being forced to disclose their confidential sources, a Pennsylvania trial judge has carved out an exception and ordered a former newspaper reporter to reveal her confidential source, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reports. The judge ruled that the shield law must yield to the need to enforce grand jury secrecy in a defamation lawsuit filed against the jointly owned newspapers The Scranton Times and The Scranton Tribune and the former reporter Jennifer Henn. The ruling is being appealed, RCFP says.

The Pennsylvania Shield Law, 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 5942(a), provides:
"No person engaged on, connected with, or employed by any newspaper of general circulation or any press association or any radio or television station, or any magazine of general circulation, for the purpose of gathering, procuring, compiling, editing or publishing news, shall be required to disclose the source of any information procured or obtained by such person, in any legal proceeding, trial or investigation before any government unit."

Sunday, June 05, 2005

McDermott: Public's right to know needs a safeguard

Citing The Washington Post and Deep Throat as standard bearers for the bond between reporters and confidential sources, Larry McDermott, publisher of The Republican in Springfield, Mass., writes today in support of federal and state legislation that would protect reporters from being forced to disclose confidential sources. He says:
"The long-standing tradition of protecting confidential sources has come under sustained attack with an unprecedented number of journalists cited for contempt of court. This threatens the independence of journalism and unfettered newsgathering in this country. Ultimately at risk is the public's knowledge about its government."
McDermott's column includes a quote from me, in my capacity as executive director of the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Assocation:
"Recent legal developments threaten to take away reporters' ability to promise confidentiality. A shiled law in Massachusetts would help ensure that inside sources continue to come forward to expose wrongdoing, without fear of reprisal."
No bill is pending in Massachusetts. Representatives of news media in the state have formed a committee, chaired by Charles Kravetz, vice president of news at New England Cable News, to push for a law here. (I am a member of that committee.)