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.)

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