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  • See a digest of ongoing cases involving confidential sources, by Bill Kenworthy of the First Amendment Center research department.

    Do we need a national shield law for journalists? Many people would say yes.

    From Time magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper to Rhode Island television reporter Jim Taricani, more and more journalists are being ordered to expose their confidential sources. The result may well be a loss of information vital to the public.

    The First Amendment Center Online has a comprehensive research article on shield laws, as well as news, commentaries, and more on this increasingly controversial topic. See links below.

  • Related

    'Do Journalists Need a Better Shield?'
    Paul McMasters and Geoffrey R. Stone debate issue of journalist shield law (re-posted by permission from the Legal Affairs magazine Web site). 12.14.04

    Branzburg v. Hayes, reporters’ privilege & circuit courts
    By Bill Kenworthy A guide to how circuit courts have ruled on reporters’ privilege in protecting confidential sources. 07.12.05

    New York Times can withhold phone records from government
    Federal judge finds newspaper has First Amendment right to protect confidentiality of its sources in certain circumstances. 02.24.05

    Time ordered to give documents to Libby
    But former New York Times reporter Judith Miller doesn't have to turn over two notebooks, her phone records or appointment calendars. 05.26.06

    Time to turn over reporter's notes
    Meanwhile, The New York Times says it is 'deeply disappointed' by magazine's decision to hand over Matthew Cooper's files. 06.30.05

    11th Circuit: Sports Illustrated not protected by Alabama shield law
    But panel rules magazine doesn't have to reveal confidential source yet because Mike Price hasn't exhausted all other means for finding person's identity. 07.18.05

    2004 confidential-sources survey

    2nd Circuit OKs look at Times' phone records
    Case involved Judith Miller, Philip Shenon's news report that two Islamic charities were being investigated. 08.01.06

    5 news organizations to pay Wen Ho Lee
    Settlement ends proceedings against reporters who were protecting confidential sources. 06.02.06

    After 226 days, freelancer Josh Wolf released from jail
    In deal with prosecutors, blogger agreed to turn over uncut video, which he also posted on his Web site yesterday. 04.04.07

    Attorneys general team up to support journalist shield
    Bipartisan group to file brief urging Supreme Court to recognize reporter's right to keep sources confidential in CIA-leak case. 05.27.05

    Bill to create federal shield law introduced in House
    Legislation sponsored by Reps. Mike Pence, Rick Boucher would also protect news media from having to reveal confidential sources. 02.02.05

    Coach, Sports Illustrated reach 2nd settlement
    Deal replaces earlier one that fell apart amid claims by Time Inc. that Mike Price, his attorney had violated confidentiality agreement. 11.17.05

    D.C. Circuit rules against reporters in CIA leak case
    Time's Matthew Cooper, New York Times' Judith Miller could go to jail for refusing to disclose their sources. 02.15.05

    Ex-N.Y. Times reporter's testimony contradicts Libby
    Judith Miller says former vice presidential aide spoke to her about CIA officer weeks before he told investigators he first heard about the woman from another journalist. 01.30.07

    Ex-Alabama football coach, Sports Illustrated settle lawsuit
    Mike Price had sued magazine for $20 million, claiming he was defamed, slandered by story about the night he visited topless bar in Florida. 10.11.05

    Ex-State Dept. official says he leaked name of CIA officer
    Richard Armitage, agency's former No. 2, says he inadvertently disclosed Valerie Plame's identity in conversations with columnist Robert Novak, Washington Post's Bob Woodward. 09.08.06

    Full D.C. Circuit won't hear journalists' appeal of contempt order
    One dissenting judge says Wen Ho Lee's claim for compensation pales in importance to people's right to know about what was believed to be nuclear espionage. 11.04.05

    Georgia prevails in case on reporter's privilege
    By David L. Hudson Jr. UC-Davis is runner-up in 16th annual competition; hypothetical raised issues from Branzburg v. Hayes. 02.27.06

    High court refuses to stop probe of N.Y. Times phone records
    Justice Department wants to review data as it investigates leak in terrorism-funding probe. 11.27.06

    High court won't hear reporters' appeal over subpoenas
    Time's Matthew Cooper, New York Times' Judith Miller face up to 18 months in jail for refusing to reveal sources in CIA leak case. 06.27.05

    House votes to give journalists shield for confidential sources
    Co-sponsor Mike Pence, R-Ind., says measure 'is not about protecting reporters, it's about protecting the public's right to know.' 10.17.07

    Intel panel complains press leaks help U.S. foes
    Those disclosing classified info should be more vigorously prosecuted, commission warns; excessive secrecy more harmful than leaks, AP attorney counters. 04.01.05

    Jailed & subpoenaed journalists — a historical timeline

    Journalists face further threats in protecting sources
    'Instead of Fitzgerald coming after reporters, now we have Libby coming after reporters,' Reporters Committee chief says of latest developments in CIA leak case. 11.07.05

    Lawyer comes forward as convicted reporter's confidential source
    Joseph Bevilacqua Jr. acknowledges leaking FBI videotape to WJAR's Jim Taricani but claims he never asked that his identity be kept secret. 12.02.04

    Lawyers' group backs federal protection for journalists
    American Bar Association rejected supporting shield law 30 years ago, but reconsidered idea after jailing of New York Times reporter. 08.11.05

    Libby can't be told suspected leaker's name
    Federal judge says special counsel can withhold identity of other government official who is said to have divulged CIA operative's name because that person hasn't been charged. 02.27.06

    Libby defense challenges credibility of NBC's Russert
    Prosecution in CIA leak trial rests after 'Meet the Press' host spends more than two hours under cross-examination. 02.08.07

    Libby lawyers subpoena Times Co., former reporter
    Counsel for indicted Cheney chief of staff seeks Judith Miller's notes, other materials in CIA leak case. 03.16.06

    Libby lawyers withdraw request for NBC reporter's notes
    Attorneys for former vice presidential aide had said they planned to call Andrea Mitchell as defense witness during perjury, obstruction trial. 01.22.07

    McGraw-Hill must surrender natural-gas price data
    Federal judge finds reporter's privilege to protect confidentiality of sources is outweighed by government's need for information in energy-price probe. 10.05.05

    Miller ordered to jail, Cooper agrees to testify in Plame case
    Judith Miller of New York Times refuses to divulge source; Time reporter says his source has freed him from confidentiality promise. 07.06.05

    Miller testifies again before grand jury
    New York Times reporter appears before panel for second time, also turns over notes from previously undisclosed conversation with vice president's chief of staff. 10.12.05

    Miller testifies in CIA leak probe
    New York Times reporter is freed after 85 days in jail, says her source has released her from promise of confidentiality. 09.30.05

    Miller's decision to testify surprises supporters, journalists
    Meanwhile, attorney for New York Times reporter said he had tried a year ago to reach agreement with special prosecutor concerning testimony. 10.03.05

    Minn. police subpoena reporter's cell-phone records
    First Amendment expert says government has effectively 'done an end run around the shield law by going to the telephone company rather than the journalist.' 12.12.07

    National shield law needed, press lawyer says
    Congress must enable reporters to keep their confidential sources protected, Bruce Sanford says. 10.24.04

    News media seek documents in CIA leak case
    Organizations argue that prosecutor didn't need testimony of reporters who were threatened with jail time because he knew source of leak all along. 12.26.06

    Newsgatherers may feel pinch of 7th Circuit's ruling on privilege
    By Douglas Lee Judges back trial court's decision that journalists' unpublished taped interviews aren't protected. 08.28.03

    Ohio newspaper holding 2 stories based on leaks
    Cleveland Plain Dealer editor says paper seeks to avoid type of court showdown that resulted in New York Times reporter's jailing. 07.11.05

    Ongoing confidential-sources cases
    By Bill Kenworthy Compilation tracking current cases involving efforts to force journalists to disclose confidential sources. 08.04.05

    Pa. appeals court says reporter may protect source's identity
    Panel overturns lower court ruling that had found importance of grand jury secrecy outweighed protections of state shield law. 01.08.07

    Poll finds many newspapers bar anonymous sourcing
    Editors at one-fourth of the publications surveyed by AP, APME say they never allow reporters to quote confidential sources. 06.11.05

    Press advocates mull effect of Miller's jailing
    Some fear whistleblowers will be less likely to talk to journalists; others hope they will be reassured by reporter's determination to protect source. 07.07.05

    Prominent journalists take stand in CIA leak trial
    New York Times managing editor testifies day after Bob Woodward, Robert Novak, others face questioning. 02.13.07

    Prosecutor demands that Time reporter testify
    Special counsel also opposes requests by Matthew Cooper, Judith Miller to be granted home detention, instead of jail, for refusing to reveal sources in CIA leak case. 07.05.05

    Protecting reporters' privilege?
    By Alicia Armbruster Study finds current version of bill proposing federal shield law would solve key concerns among journalists trying to protect confidential sources. 04.12.07

    R.I. reporter convicted of criminal contempt
    Jim Taricani, who faces up to six months in prison for refusing to identify source, calls ruling 'assault on journalistic freedom.' 11.18.04

    Reporter's lawyers ask D.C. Circuit to reverse contempt citation
    Attorneys for Toni Locy call fines 'destructive sanctions,' say federal judge has abused his discretion. 03.31.08

    Seattle drops demand that newspaper identify sources
    City withdraws subpoenas issued to three Seattle Times reporters, saying it had not meant to challenge newspaper's ability to protect confidential sources. 12.06.07

    SEC backs off demand for journalists' records – for now
    Agency investigating allegations of stock manipulation turns spotlight on two Dow Jones columnists. 02.27.06

    Senator proposes bill to protect reporters who won't reveal sources
    'A free press is the best guarantee of a knowledgeable citizenry,' Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., says after introducing legislation. 11.22.04

    Shield law or no, protection of confidential sources uncertain
    Proposed measures would offer only modest shelter for journalists who want to withhold identities of those who gave them information. 03.17.08

    Shield laws

    State shield statutes & leading cases
    By Bill Kenworthy State-by-state compilation of journalist-shield statutes, cases. 10.17.05

    Survey suggests journalists use confidential sources sparingly
    Majority of 711 journalists responding to online questionnaire say they need unnamed sources, but use them in less than 10% of their news reports. 03.17.05

    U.S. drops subpoenas in Cuban militant case
    New York Times, former writer of articles on Luis Posada Carriles will not have to give up tapes, documents. 08.10.05

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