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Should reporters be protected from revealing their sources?

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  • Should reporters be protected from revealing their sources?

    Do you think reporters should have a Federal "shield" law enacted to protect them from having to reveal a source? I heard talk of that on the radio today. This is big in the news right now with one reporter choosing jail over revealing her source in the CIA leaked identity case.

    Ordinarily I'd say reporters should be protected but in cases like this where the agent's identity was exposed I say the source should be made available to a judge. I consider knowingly endangering an CIA operative akin to shouting fire in the crowded movie theater.

    There should be a common sense factor applied to any proposed federal shield law. In this case the need for the big scoop should have not overridden the need to protect this operative from harm's way.

    What do you think?
    Disclaimer: The writer does not represent any organization, employer, entity or other individual. The first amendment protected views/commentary/opinions/satire expressed are those only of the writer. In the case of a sarcastic, facetious, nonsensical, stirring-the-pot, controversial or devil's advocate-type post, the views expressed may not even reflect those of the writer.

  • #2
    Confidential sources should always be protected. If some information is revealed to a reporter that is potentially damaging to national security or could endanger someone's safety, IMO it's up to the reporter to not publish it.
    Talk sense to a fool, and he will call you foolish - Euripides

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    • #3
      I think that by the very fact that the reporter is in jail proves the fire in a theater argument. I'm with you one this. Generally, they should be protected up until the point where somebody could potentially be harmed by their silence.
      "Respect for religion must be reestablished. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of public officials must be curtailed. Assistance to foreign lands must be stopped or we shall bankrupt ourselves. The people should be forced to work and not depend on government for subsistence." - Cicero, 60 B.C.

      For California police academy notes go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CABasicPolice/

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      • #4
        It's a tricky issue. My gut answer is "yes". But what if it's not a reliable source? Or worse, the source is intentionally trying to spread misinformation? Should this be allowed to happen with no legal consequence?

        I guess generally speaking, yes they should be protected. But I could see exceptions creeping up. Good question.
        You have no right to not be offended.-Neal Boortz

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        • #5
          .................
          Last edited by toasterlocker; 09-05-2007, 11:20 AM.

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          • #6
            As a general rule, I support reporters protecting their sources. However, in this case an operational CIA agent was identified. Completely unacceptable. I can't support this in matters of national security.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by BrickCop
              ...I consider knowingly endangering an CIA operative akin to shouting fire in the crowded movie theater...There should be a common sense factor applied to any proposed federal shield law. In this case the need for the big scoop should have not overridden the need to protect this operative from harm's way. What do you think?
              I'd suggest the first common sense line could be drawn between information on something after the fact and information relevant to prevention, beforehand. Therefore, the only thing I'd equate to shouting fire would be information necessary to still prevent harm, (or protect the operative before the disclosure, etc), but not necessarily to ID or prosecute those responsible for harm, afterwards. In the case of information necessary to prevent harm of certain types and magnitude, I'd even consider allowing torture, in certain cases, as suggested by Alan Dershowitz, with respect to the war on terrorism...but that's a whole 'nother story. (Torture of terrorist operatives, that is, not reporters.)

              Originally posted by pkagel
              I think that by the very fact that the reporter is in jail proves the fire in a theater argument.
              I haven't followed this case, in particular, but I think all that proves is that he was held in contempt of court, and not anything on the underlying issue.

              Originally posted by pkagel
              I'm with you one this. Generally, they should be protected up until the point where somebody could potentially be harmed by their silence.
              Right. Before the disclosure, to prevent it, if possible. Not to prosecute, afterwards.

              Also, keep in mind that if reporters lose any protection, it will eventually become a moot point, because they just won't be getting any more confidential info capable of being used to prevent harm in the first place; we just won't get that news anymore.
              Last edited by ProWriter; 07-09-2005, 10:54 PM.
              No longer ignoring anybody here, since that psycho known as "Josey Wales" finally got the boot after being outed as a LE imposter by B&G978. Nice job.

              Comment


              • #8
                What

                Originally posted by Delta784
                Confidential sources should always be protected. If some information is revealed to a reporter that is potentially damaging to national security or could endanger someone's safety, IMO it's up to the reporter to not publish it.

                Maby with cops, but to the news guy? I think not. If you dont want people to know you told on them, dont tell the newspaper... Call the police.

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                • #9
                  If reports can not be caused to reveal their sources. What is there to prevent the reporter from claiming to have a souce, that in relaity does not exist?
                  "In my life I have met many people who were quick to point a finger, and but a few that cared enough lift one"

                  ME

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                  • #10
                    IMO, anyone, reporter, doctor, clergy etc. who has knowledge that someone has committed a crime has an obligation to report it, including how they came to have this information and from who it was obtained.
                    Be sure you're right, then go ahead
                    Davy Crockett

                    Never pick a fight with an old man.
                    If he's too old to fight, he'll just kill you
                    .


                    PM me if you wanna swap patches.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by chiefhuntr
                      Maby with cops, but to the news guy? I think not. If you dont want people to know you told on them, dont tell the newspaper... Call the police.
                      Why should a reporter be absolved of all blame when they knowingly release information that they know is damaging to national security?
                      Talk sense to a fool, and he will call you foolish - Euripides

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                      • #12
                        Great point Delta.

                        If a federal "law" is passed then where does it end?.. Let's change the BTK case around a bit. The BTK killer used the media to exploit his murders. What if a reporter doing a story on the killer was getting info from the killer himself. Do you keep it as a confidential source or do you tell the cops? Hey it's a confidential source!!! I know it's a stretch but how long 'til we get to that point.

                        A crime is a crime and should not be protected as some reporters source. Like Bowles said they should have an obligation to report it, if not legally at least morally. If a reporter chooses to keep it "secret" than don't publish it. If they do and end up going to jail to protect their source then shut the hell up and sit in jail, it was their choice.

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                        • #13
                          "Real" reporters, who have real journalistic integrity have a right to have their "reliable" sources kept confidential however most reporters are total whores and have a huge agenda. The line has been blurred and in the land of fake info, it's rather difficult to want to or be able to protect the source.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The SC has already ruled that reporters do not have a 1st amendment right not to testify before a Grand Jury.

                            Branzburg Vs Hayes 1972.

                            The Court found that requiring reporters to disclose confidential information to grand juries served a "compelling" and "paramount" state interest and did not violate the First Amendment. Justice White argued that since the case involved no government intervention to impose prior restraint, and no command to publish sources or to disclose them indiscriminately, there was no Constitutional violation. The fact that reporters receive information from sources in confidence does not privilege them to withhold that information during a government investigation; the average citizen is often forced to disclose information received in confidence when summoned to testify in court.
                            Retired

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                            • #15
                              A new twist on the case ... Rove says he found out about Plame from the reporters.

                              So um, where did the reporters get their info about Plame, then? I doubt they had the proper security clearance to find out themselves.

                              Comment

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