How would the federal shield bill that passed the Judiciary Committee affect journalists?
AP Photo by Mark Lennihan
Editorial employees walk through the headquarters of The Associated Press in New York. The Justice Department secretly obtained the wire service’s telephone record, prompting the recent battle for a federal shield law for journalists.
Since the Senate Judiciary Committee passed an amended version of a federal shield bill in September, commentators have largely focused on who qualifies as a journalist under the bill. While it is an important question, it is not the only question journalists should be asking.
The proposed federal shield bill, known as the Free Flow of Information Act of 2013, is a lengthy bill with a number of provisions. Even if an individual qualifies as a journalist initially, he or she might lose protection due to any one of the bill’s exceptions.