Possibility of a federal shield law

by   |  04.16.05  |  Current Events

There’s been a lot of talk about passing a federal shield law. The current proposal is troubling because it sets journalists apart from other citizens when it comes to testifying in court and, for that reason, it must define journalists. (See Section 2.) Bad idea.

We are all equal under the law, and journalists have no more First Amendment freedom than other citizens of the United States.

Other privileges exist – attorney-client, spousal, clergy-laity, doctor-patient – to protect the individual’s rights. Those arguing for a journalists privilege do so to encourage thorough and effective reporting. As much as I value the latter, it does not rise to the importance of the former.