Monday, August 09, 2004

protecting sources--what the experts say

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has a First Amendment Handbook containing legal background on rights pertaining to protecting confidential source.

Go there for all the scoop. Some relevant tidbits include:
  • Many, but not all, states have "shield" laws allowing reporters to protect their sources, under varying circumstances
  • With regard to reporters in the greater DC area, Maryland, Delaware, and DC have shield laws. Virginia does not. New York does, Illinois does not. Washington (State) does not.
  • A US Supreme precedent case (from 1972) lays out a specific 3-part "balancing test" to determine whether the reporter has the right to protect a source.
  • In most state laws, and in the Federal precedent, reporters cannot refuse to testify if they witnessed criminal activity.