Tag Archives: shield law

Protected, unprotected; reporter’s flip a coin

018Freedom of Speech is an Amendment we learn as a young child that protects us from saying whatever we feel and think without any consequences. I know, I know not the proper definition but it works for kids.

When we grow up we find out that this is untrue. People, including the media, cannot report on whatever they want, even if it means the info being reported is true and needs to be brought into the light.

We see it all the time when a person is being sued, journalists are being held prisoner, or the government really does not agree with journalists holding back their sources.

Journalists hold back sources so the public feels comfortable in telling their story or information to the world. Without that we will never find anything out because of the public will be controlled by fear.

A shield law is to protect journalists and their sources. There is no federal shield law, it is only state to state, and that is shaky itself because the government does not believe in reporters’ privilege.

The plan was to vote and have a shield law that would protect a wider range of reporting outlets.

This law is already passed in the House (H.R. 985):

The term “covered person” means a person who regularly gathers, prepares, collects, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports, or publishes news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public for a substantial portion of the person’s livelihood or for substantial financial gain and includes a supervisor, employer, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of such covered person.

This is The Senate’s bill (S. 448) looking to be passed:

 i) with the primary intent to investigate events and procure material in order to disseminate to the public news or information concerning local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest, regularly gathers, prepares, collects, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports, or publishes on such matters by—
(I) conducting interviews;
(II) making direct observation of events; or
(III) collecting, reviewing, or analyzing original writings, statements, communications, reports, memoranda, records, transcripts, documents, photographs, recordings, tapes, materials, data, or other information whether in paper, electronic, or other form; and
(ii) has such intent at the inception of the newsgathering process;

The Judiciary Committee did not vote on the shield law two weeks ago, according to the Nieman Journalism Lab, but they did come up with an amendment to the House bill that would exclude amateur journalists, like myself, and all the other bloggers and reporters, who a substantial amount of their day is not devoted to reporting.

(iii) obtains the information sought while working as a salaried employee of, or independent contractor for, an entity—
(I) that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, or other means; and
(II) that—
(aa) publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical;
(bb) operates a radio or television broadcast station, network, cable system, or satellite carrier, or a channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier;
(cc) operates a programming service; or
(dd) operates a news agency or wire service;

What do you think of the vote, or lack of vote? Do you believe journalists should be protected under a law to protect themselves and their sources?



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