23 November 2008
Should there be a Federal Shield Law?
Most people can attest that honesty, loyalty, and integrity all construct the solid foundation for which trust is built upon. If any of these values were to be broken, then trust would become eradicated. Picture yourself being a journalist and a person contacts you with vital information about an internal investigation within the Los Angeles Police department. No officers have been caught engaging in any illegal activity, but the male’s testimony, along with documents provided, can serve as the catalyst for making the corrupt officers ostensible. The man clearly states that he will only cooperate under the conditions that his name not be revealed as a source or the leak. As a journalist, what does one do? If the journalist is compelled by a federal court, does one betray the trust of the source and disclose who gave them the information. This is one of the many situations which brought about the deliberation and controversy regarding whether a federal shield law should or should not be established. The District of Columbia and 34 states already have such a law but only at the state level. There is a concern about one aspect of the legislation, this shield is seen to be needed on the federal level. In balancing out the pros and cons, legislation must decide if the peoples’ rights simply outweigh the security of our nation and the injustice of placing journalist above the law. Do we sacrifice one in order to gain another? It’s simply up to Congress to decide. My stand on the issue is that a federal shield law should be enacted. Government policy makers must clearly establish strict criteria for what constitutes a journalist, and the law is in favor of journalist except in cases of imminent harm to national security.
According to “The News Media and The law”, a quarterly magazine on all aspects of media law, covering cases, laws and other events that may...