Documentary group opposes Chevron's review of unused footage

Cristina Abello | Reporter's Privilege | Quicklink | May 14, 2010

A documentary association and filmmakers this week wrote an open letter opposing a judge’s ruling that Chevron could review a documentarian’s raw footage and stressed the importance of shield laws for reporters.

A New York federal judge last week ruled that although filmmaker Joe Berlinger’s work for his oil industry documentary "Crude" fell under the definition of newsgathering for purposes of a qualified reporter’s privilege, the privilege was overcome by Chevron's need for the information. Berlinger has said he plans to appeal Judge Lewis Kaplan’s ruling.

“We urge the higher courts to overturn this ruling to help ensure the safety and protection of journalists and their subjects, and to promote a free and vital press in our nation and around the world,” the International Documentary Association letter read. “Though many of us work independently of large news organizations, we nevertheless hold ourselves to the highest of journalistic standards in the writing, producing, and editing of our films.”