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Journalism coalition releases statement of support for journalists held in contempt of court

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A coalition of journalism-related organizations on Tuesday released a statement of support for numerous journalists who have recently been cited…

A coalition of journalism-related organizations on Tuesday released a statement of support for numerous journalists who have recently been cited for contempt in federal court for protecting the identity of confidential sources.

The statement represents the support of the journalism community for journalists who reported on controversies involving Wen Ho Lee, Valerie Plame and Providence, R.I. mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci. It also expresses support for any others who may risk fine and imprisonment for refusing to testify about their sources. The coalition plans to present this statement to federal officials and publish it in newspapers around the country.

Individual reporters are encouraged to sign the statement in support of the reporters (found at www.rcfp.org/standup). The statement says:

“For well over a century, reporters have recognized an ethical duty to protect their confidential sources. If journalists could not and did not honor this guarantee, significant sources who fear reprisal will be afraid to reveal what they know; valuable information about government conduct will not reach the public.

“Reporters recognize that this duty must be defended uniformly. It should not be compromised whenever questions are raised about possible sources, or it will be lost in all situations.

“We support the reporters in current federal court proceedings who are refusing to testify about their confidential sources and now face stiff fines, even jail. We commend these reporters for standing firm and standing up for First Amendment principles.”

In alphabetical order, the groups endorsing the statement thus far include: American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, American Federation of Television & Radio Artists, American Society of Journalists and Authors, American Society of Magazine Editors, American Society of Newspaper Editors, Asian American Journalists Association, Associated Press Managing Editors, Coalition of Journalists for Open Government, Criminal Justice Journalists, Education Writers Association, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Journalism and Women Symposium, Magazine Publishers of America, National Association of Science Writers, National Conference of Editorial Writers, National Press Club, National Press Photographers, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Newspaper Association of America, The Newspaper Guild, Radio-Television News Directors Association, Religion Newswriters Association, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Society of Environmental Journalists, and the Society of Professional Journalists.