West Virginia


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2. Others, including non-traditional news gatherers

In West Virginia, the reporter's privilege laws do not distinguish -- either by statutory language or by decisional law -- between traditional and so-called "non-traditional" news gatherers. There is no statute or case law addressing such non-traditional news gatherers as authors, freelancers, students, unpaid news gatherers, or academic researchers are entitled to the privilege, nor is there any statute or case law addressing whether others connected to the news process, such as newspaper librarians, may assert the privilege.

3. Pro se possibility, advisability.

It is possible for such a petition to be filed pro se (without the assistance of a lawyer), although the Act does not address this situation in particular. Whether filing a petition pro se is advisable depends upon the complexity of the facts involved and the knowledge of the person filing the petition. The advisability of proceeding without a lawyer is discussed in more detail in the section above on the Freedom of Information Act.

(4). Public agenda items required.

In the case of emergency meetings held by executive agencies of state government, the notice must include the purpose of the meeting. There is nothing in the Act specifying the agenda items that must be included in the emergency meeting notices of other public bodies, but the provision that notice of all "special" meetings include the purpose presumably would apply to emergency meetings also.

4. Contents of appeal letter.

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F. How are social media postings and messages treated?

There have been no court decisions or agency guidance indicating how social media postings and messages are to be treated for purposes of FOIA analysis.

d. Language

For the purposes of filing the motion to quash, there is no stock language necessary. Indeed, the motion itself can be quite brief, although it is often preferable to file a memorandum going into some detail about the contours of the privilege. It should be remembered that in West Virginia, trial judges are not accustomed to regularly addressing issues concerning the reporters' privilege and its First Amendment implication, and often a detailed but concise explanation of the application of the privilege will be helpful to the success of the motion.


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