From USA Today
A bill that would allow journalists to protect the identity of confidential sources moved forward (Sept. 12) after lawmakers reached agreement on the tricky question of just who is a journalist.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, on a 13-5 vote, approved the federal Free Flow of Information Act and sent it to the Senate floor.
The measure has long been sought by journalism organizations and First Amendment advocates to protect reporters from having to choose between breaking a promise to a source and going to jail.
“We’re closer than we’ve ever been before to passing a strong and tough media shield bill,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a prime mover behind the measure. “Thanks to important bipartisan compromises, we’ve put together a strong bill that balances the need for national security with that of a free press. This legislation ensures that the tough investigative journalism that holds government accountable will be able to thrive.”
The languishing legislation was given new life by the Obama administration. Under fire for what many consider its overly zealous leak investigations, the administration last springasked Schumer to reintroduce the shield bill. Adding to the momentum was a federal appeals court ruling in July concluding that journalists had no right to keep their sources secret during criminal prosecutions.
Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have shield laws or precedents protecting sources’ confidentiality.