Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Calif. Assembly urges federal shield law

By a unanimous 70-0 vote, the California state Assembly urged the U.S. Congress to enact a shield law to protect journalists, Editor & Publisher reports. The resolution is sponsored by the California Newspaper Publishers Association, and supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, the California First Amendment Coalition, Californians Aware, and the Planning and Conservation League.

DA says school board broke the law

The Middlesex district attorney's office says that the Wayland School Committee violated the state open meetings law last year when it kept the public out of its closed-door review of the superintendent of schools, according to the MetroWest Daily News.

According to the report, the DA concluded that the School Committee violated the open meeting law when it used a pair of executive-session meetings to discuss the job review of the superintendent last year.

The committee also violated the law when it did not provide public access to individual reviews of Burton written by committee members and copies of his 2004 job evaluation, the DA found.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Bob Dole endorses federal shield law

Writing in the op-ed page of today's New York Times, Bob Dole expresses support for a federal shield law and concern over the jailing of Judith Miller.
"As someone with a long record of government service, I must admit that I did not always appreciate the inquisitive nature of the press. But I do understand that the purpose of a reporter's privilege is not to somehow elevate journalists above other segments of society. Instead, it is designed to help guarantee that the public continues to be well informed."

Monday, August 15, 2005

Shield law would make media vulnerable to being legislated

So says columnist E. Thomas McClanahan in the Kansas City Star:
"That’s because a federal shield law would invite Congress to begin parsing the First Amendment. Lawmakers would inevitably decide where key lines should be drawn, such as who should be included in a shield law. Such a debate ought to make First Amendment supporters more than queasy."

Reporter-source confidentiality still viable

While legal skirmishes over confidential sources are of concern to journalists, businesspeople should not be overly concerned when a reporter calls for information, two Cincinnati lawyers say in an article in the Business Courier.
"First, the events that sent [Judith ]Miller to jail are the result of a narrow set of circumstances that rarely occur. ... Second, the vast majority of interactions between sources and reporters do not involve a source who has committed a crime. ... Third, sources who want to keep their identities secret should be clear about their expectations to a journalist. ... Finally, the relationship between a reporter and a source is ultimately one of trust, built on the common goal of providing information to the public."

Journalism ed group endorses shield law

The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, meeting in San Antonio this week, endorsed a pending federal shield law, the Express-News reports. But a panel discussion on the topic brought out the pros and cons of such a law, according to the report.

Dallas attorney Robert Latham argued that shield laws are needed, because while the press is mentioned in the First Amendment, the Constitution is open for interpretation, the report said. But Roy Moore, an attorney and journalism professor at the University of Kentucky, said that while he thinks a federal shield law will ultimately be passed, reporters need to be careful about its implications.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

ABA votes to support federal shield law

The American Bar Association House of Delegates today voted to support a federal reporters’ shield law. Michael S. Greco of Boston, who became ABA president today, said:
"Our action today acknowledges the important role of journalists and the media in providing the public with significant information to ensure an informed democracy, and reporters’ need to be able to protect sources in order to get that information."
The ABA would allow the shield to be lifted upon three conditions:
  • The information sought from a journalist is essential to a critical issue.
  • All reasonable alternative sources for the information have been exhausted.
  • The need for the reporter’s information clearly outweighs the public interest in free flow of information.