Big bucks back passage of reporters shield


U.S. CongressThe Free Flow of Information Act has made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a bipartisan 13-5 vote, and now a power packed coalition of big media and free speech advocacies is looking to get it through the Senate Floor and the Oval Office.

According to The Hill, CBS, News Corporation, Time Warner, Hearst and NPR are among the media entities spending on a lobbying effort to get the bill passed. They are joined by ACLU and other groups.

The bill would confirm the right of reporters to protect sources. Many states have a reporters shield but there is not one at the federal level.

A recent effort to pass a shield, also with bipartisan support, seemed destined to make it all the way to the White House but failed in the end.

NAB’s Dennis Wharton commented, “There’s no illusion that this is going to be easy, but we’re cautiously optimistic that this could be our year.”

There is still some dispute over who actually qualifies to be considered a journalist, and therefore qualifies for the protections afforded by the law, but observers note that despite any imperfections it is far better than having no shield at all, and add that it is always possible to adjust it going forward.