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This section covers the use of subpoenas to force journalists to disclose their confidential news sources and unpublished information.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.

Two recent cases highlight tension in applying shield law to new media

Will extending the reporter’s privilege too far weaken shield laws?
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26

From the Summer 2011 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 26.

Recent developments in New Jersey and Hawaii have sparked debate about who should qualify for the protections of state shield laws and the complications that emerge when trying to extend the reporters privilege to online or independent journalists.

In June, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in Too Much Media v. Hale that a person who posted comments on an online message board did not qualify for the state’s shield law.

Number of states with shield law climbs to 40

Sidebar
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27

From the Summer 2011 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 27.

In April, West Virginia became the 40th state, along with the District of Columbia, to provide a statute that shields journalists from subpoenas. The law took effect on June 10.

In Hawaii, Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed on June 16 an extension of the state’s shield law that will keep protections for journalists in the state on the books until 2013.

Times reporter won't have to reveal confidential source

Clara Hogan | Reporter's Privilege | Feature | August 1, 2011
Feature
August 1, 2011

A New York Times reporter will not have to reveal a confidential source when he testifies in the trial of a former CIA employee accused of leaking classified information, a federal judge ruled late last week regarding one of the highest-profile journalist subpoenas in recent years.

Company asks judge to throw out anonymous poster ruling

Clara Hogan | Reporter's Privilege | Feature | July 28, 2011
Feature
July 28, 2011

An Internet service provider in Colorado earlier this month asked a federal court to throw out a magistrate judge’s ruling that, the provider says, ignored legal precedent regarding the unveiling of anonymous Internet posters.

Federal judge hears arguments in Risen subpoena case

Clara Hogan | Reporter's Privilege | Feature | July 7, 2011
Feature
July 7, 2011

A federal judge in Virginia heard arguments this morning about whether a New York Times reporter’s testimony is necessary for the U.S. government’s criminal leak case against former CIA employee Jeffrey Sterling.

Reporters Committee joined by 46 news organizations in bid to quash subpoena

Press Release | July 5, 2011
July 5, 2011

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, joined by 46 media organizations, has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York City (2nd Cir.) seeking to affirm the quashing of a subpoena for the testimony of a Wall Street Journal reporter in a financial malfeasance lawsuit.

Amicus brief in Baker & Baker v. Goldman Sachs & Co. et al.

July 1, 2011

Urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to affirm the lower court's order granting former Wall Street Journal reporter Jesse Eisinger's motion to quash a subpoena seeking his testimony about non-confidential unpublished information.

Trial subpoena for Risen's testimony more likely to succeed

Aaron Mackey | Reporter's Privilege | Feature | June 29, 2011
Feature
June 29, 2011

It is more likely that a New York Times investigative reporter will have to testify in a trial against a former CIA official accused of leaking classified information, even though his subpoena before a grand jury for much of the same information was quashed, the federal judge handling the case said in a November ruling made public on Tuesday.

New York Times reporter asks judge to quash subpoena

Clara Hogan | Reporter's Privilege | Feature | June 22, 2011
Feature
June 22, 2011

New York Times investigative reporter James Risen officially asked a federal judge yesterday to quash a government-issued subpoena for his testimony about a confidential source in the criminal trial of a former CIA official accused of leaking classified information.

College: Academics also deserve protection from subpoenas

Aaron Mackey | Reporter's Privilege | Feature | June 10, 2011
Feature
June 10, 2011

Academics archiving the oral histories of the decades-long Troubles in Northern Ireland should be protected from subpoenas in ways similar to the protection given to journalists, attorneys for Boston College argued this week.