Now that the House has passed a reporters shield, journalism advocates, including the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Press Club and the ACLU, are asking the Senate to get on board and forward the measure to the White House for a presidential autograph.
SPJ President Dave Aeikens said. “It’s reassuring that so many legislators recognize the importance of protecting information in the public interest. We are ready for the next step – getting the Senate to pass the bill and encouraging the Obama administration to continue its pledged support.”
“It is past time that reporters have a national shield against government attempts to learn the identities of anonymous sources,” said NPC President and USA Today reporter Donna Leinwand. “Unless reporters can withhold the names of sources on occasion, the press cannot do its job as well. If reporters cannot protect sources, it will chill their ability to shine a light on decisions and actions the government is trying to keep secret from the public — actions about which the public has a right to know.”
ACLU said that the bill could be even stronger, and is not pleased by some built in exceptions under which reporter testimony on souces may be compelled, but concluded that “we believe the bill makes a good attempt at striking a reasonable balance between the needs of civil and criminal litigants and the rights of society to a free and flourishing press.
RBR/TVBR observation: SPJ points out that this bill couldn’t get past a filibuster last time it went to the Senate. We believe there may be Republican support for it, particularly from Dick Lugar (R-IN) which may see it through the chamber this time.