Reporter's Privilege

This section covers the use of subpoenas to force journalists to disclose their confidential news sources and unpublished information. Shield laws exist in forty states; if a reporter isn't covered by a shield law, there may still be a constitutional privilege that helps protect sources and information. This section also covers official attempts to seize journalists' work product and documents without a warrant.

Subpoena for Salon reporter in obscenity trial dropped

Haley Behre | Reporter's Privilege | Feature | March 2, 2012
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March 2, 2012

A journalist who was subpoenaed to testify at an obscenity trial for an artist specializing in pornography, will no longer have to testify because the Department of Justice dropped the subpoena without explanation.

Wall Street Journal reporter protected by N.Y. shield law

Chris Healy | Reporter's Privilege | Feature | February 16, 2012
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February 16, 2012

A former reporter for The Wall Street Journal is protected from testifying in a lawsuit between the financial firm Goldman Sachs and a former client, the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York City (2nd Cir.) ruled yesterday.

The fine line between journalism and advocacy

Are reporters who work on innocence projects still journalists?
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AP Photo by M. Spencer Green

In this 2009 photo, then Northwestern University professor David Protess, founder of the Medill Innocence Project, talks with journalism students about reporting.

Former CIA officer charged with leaking info to journalists

Andrea Papagianis | Reporter's Privilege | Feature | January 23, 2012
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January 23, 2012

Former CIA officer John Kiriakou, right, is accused of leaking classified documents to the news media.

Ill. judge rules that tech blog not covered by shield law

Chris Healy | Reporter's Privilege | Feature | January 19, 2012
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January 19, 2012

Writers for a technology blog that published leaked photos of an unreleased Motorola Droid smartphone do not qualify as a reporters for purposes of Illinois' shield law, and so the blog must disclose the identity of a source, a state judge has ruled.

Reporter's testimony wrongly excluded, Eighth Circuit rules

Chris Healy | Reporter's Privilege | Feature | January 4, 2012
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January 4, 2012

The court could have compelled a reporter to testify as a witness in a patient's lawsuit against her plastic surgeons who handed over her partially nude photographs to a Missouri newspaper, a federal court of appeals has ruled.

Federal judge orders Tribune reporter to turn over notes

Chris Healy | Reporter's Privilege | Feature | December 13, 2011
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December 13, 2011

Update (12/14/2011): U.S. Judge James Zagel has ruled that Chicago Tribune reporter Annie Sweeney will not be compelled to turn over her notes regarding a juror in the felony trial of William Cellini, the Tribune reports.

Proposed federal shield law resurfaces again

Fourth time a charm for the bill that can’t seem to get through Senate
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Two San Francisco Chronicle investigative reporters made national news after breaking the steroids scandal involving Barry Bonds and other star athletes in 2004. The journalists were honored by the president for their reporting, which sparked a Congressional investigation and arguably saved lives by stemming the tide of rampant steroid use by athletes of all ages.

U.S. appeals judge's decision to limit Risen testimony

J.C. Derrick | Reporter's Privilege | Feature | October 20, 2011
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October 20, 2011

Federal prosecutors appealed on Wednesday a federal district court judge's decision to limit the scope of a New York Times reporter's testimony in the trial of a former CIA officer accused of leaking classified information.

The prosecution's appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. (4th Cir.), further delays the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, which was scheduled to start Monday.

New York shield law protects media in MLB suit

J.C. Derrick | Reporter's Privilege | Feature | October 17, 2011
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October 17, 2011

Major League Baseball filed a complaint against an insurance company to find out who leaked confidential financial information to the Associated Press and Deadspin.com, but did not include the news organizations in the filing.

New York's shield law includes absolute protection for journalists' confidential sources, leaving the league without an option to pursue the two organizations that published the financial records of six baseball franchises in August of last year.