EFF: Press Room: "EFF is defending the publishers against these subpoenas, arguing that the anonymity of bloggers' sources is protected by the same laws that protect sources providing information to journalists. 'Bloggers break the news, just like journalists do. They must be able to promise confidentiality in order to maintain the free flow of information.'"

My knowledge of confidential sources is limited to coaching a debate team on the topic a few years ago -- "Resolved: A journalist's right to shield confidential sources ought to be protected by the First Amendment", if memory serves. So, this raises an interesting question about who a "journalist" might be... but what I'm more interested in at the moment is the "laws that protect sources"... since I think that a journalist's privilege is an asserted right (like "fair use" in copyright law) and isn't a legally affirmed one?

Comments

Anonymous said…
Minnesota and many other states have a "shield law" that protects journalists from revealing confidential sources of information. When I taught media law several years ago, about three-fourths of the states had such laws. (There is no federal law that gives such protection.) There are exceptions to the state laws so it is difficult to say if the journalists will be protected. The big question now is the definition of a journalist. In the past, it was held that free-lance writers are not journalists. So is a blogger a free-lance journalist -- or a journalist? Many bloggers were credentialed for the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. So does that mean they are now journalists protected by a "shield law"?
Anonymous said…
From:
Norman W. Larson
Emeritus Professor of Journalism

Page E4 of the Sunday, Jan. 30, Minneapolis Star Tribune is a full-page ad headlined, "Standing Up for the First Amendment; A statement in support of journalists found in contempt of court" because of "their refusal to reveal the identity of confidential sources or disclose information given them in confidence during their reporting."

"A Statement of Support" was signed by more than 4,000 journalists, including hundreds from Minneapolis and St. Paul daily newspapers and other Twin Cities news media.

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