S. 448, Free Flow of Information Act of 2009, attributed by the Senate Judiciary Committee to Arlen Specter (D-PA), Schumer (D-NY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), will be marked up by the Committee in a business meeting kicking off at 10:00 AM this morning. This is the bill popularly known as the reporter’s shield, and RTNDA suggests they accept it exactly as written.
The Radio and Television News Directors has had as many of its members as possible working their own senators, trying to make sure that no restrictive amendments are added to the bill at the last minute.
The shield enables reporters to protect the identity of anonymous sources. It is necessary to preserve the ability of the press to perform its watchdog function over the government and other institutions.
RTNDA Chairman Stacey Woelfel said, “Currently, most states already protect this right of journalists. But federal lawmakers have been reluctant to grant the same protection from federal subpoenas and other action. This bipartisan effort would remedy that, changing many years of policy that work against good reporting.”
RBR/TVBR observation: As we’ve noted many times, there has always been strong bipartisan support for this bill, except in one key place – the Bush White House. We don’t know what the amendments, if any, will look like, but we do expect passage.