Bill to protect journalists’ rights should pass

The most important thing that journalists can have is their integrity. They must always be trustworthy, so that in a situation where sources believes that it is necessary to reveal their information anonymously, they know that their name will not be divulged.

This is why we are glad to learn that President Obama and Congress are moving forward on a Federal Shield Law that would protect reporters who are unwilling to reveal anonymous sources, according to an article from The New York Times.

It is a journalist’s job to report on events that are happening. In some cases, these situations involve sensitive information — information that will not be freely discussed when the people involved are confronted with probing questions. This can mean listening to whispers from behind closed doors, or getting information from anonymous sources who don’t wish to lose their jobs because they are speaking to a reporter.

But currently, a journalist’s right to withhold the name of an anonymous source is in jeopardy. The new bill would, in some cases, allow judges to effectively cancel a subpoena that asks reporters to reveal information about their anonymous sources. The bill offers different levels of protection for different types of cases involved. In civil cases, the burden of proof for the need to reveal the information lies with those who want it to be revealed, while in criminal cases or those involving classified information, the burden of proof falls to the reporter to explain why it is necessary that the source remain anonymous. Subpoenas for cases regarding terrorism or national security cannot be eliminated at all.

We are in support of a law that would protect journalists’ rights, and hope that Obama and Congress see the situation the same way.