SOURCE: Newspaper Association of America

October 16, 2007 18:36 ET

Media Groups Applaud House Passage of the Shield Bill

Step Brings Federal Protection of Confidential Sources One Step Closer to Enactment

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - October 16, 2007) - Passage of the Free Flow of Information Act of 2007 (H.R. 2102) by the U.S. House of Representatives on a 398 to 21 vote was applauded by more than 50 media companies and organizations today. With the instrumental leadership of Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), a federal shield bill is one step closer to reality, ensuring that reporters don't face federal prosecution for refusing to identify confidential sources except in special circumstances.

Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia offer some degree of shield law protection, while an additional 16 have seen judicial decisions supporting the safeguarding of confidential sources. At the federal level, however, there is currently no shield law protection, as evidenced by a wave of federal subpoenas that have threatened to (and in some cases actually have) put reporters behind bars.

John F. Sturm, president and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America, issued the following statement on behalf of the media coalition:

"The coalition would like to express its most sincere gratitude to the champions of this critical legislation: Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.). Because of their perseverance and the dedication of all lawmakers who supported this federal shield law, Congress moves one step closer to guaranteeing that the public's right to a free flow of news and information will continue unimpeded."

"The Free Flow of Information Act of 2007 reflects reasonable compromises that address law enforcement and national security concerns while protecting the rights of reporters to safeguard the identity of sources that need to remain confidential. By enacting a federal shield law, the Congress can ensure that all parties -- journalists, sources, prosecutors, civil litigants and courts alike -- can rely on consistent and well-articulated standards of procedure."

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