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Home > SPJ News > SPJ encourages Committee to move quickly on federal shield law

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SPJ encourages Committee to move quickly on federal shield law


9/17/2009


For Immediate Release:
9/17/09

Contacts:
Kevin Z. Smith, SPJ President, 304-367-4864,
ksmith@spj.org
Karen Grabowski, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-927-8000 ext. 215,
kgrabowski@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists is disappointed that the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has delayed the discussion of and vote on bill S. 448 – the Free Flow of Information Act. The Society strongly encourages the Committee to reopen discussions and vote in short order so that the full Senate can, without delay, consider this piece of legislation that is pivotal to maintaining a free and independent press.

S. 448 would create a federal shield law that would grant protections to journalists who refuse to reveal confidential sources, even when compelled by a subpoena and the threat of penal action. Currently, journalists and their sources are only protected by privilege statutes or administrative rules in certain states. There is no such protection at the federal level.

"We are disheartened by the unexpected delay in the vote on S. 448, the Free Flow of Information Bill, by the Senate Judiciary Committee today. We strongly encourage the senators to return to this piece of legislation soon and move it to the Senate floor,” SPJ President Kevin Smith said. “Every day journalists operate in this country without protection for its sources is another day the American public is potentially denied the type of courageous reporting that keeps a watch on government. We hope the Senate does the right thing for its citizens and allows this bill to become law."

SPJ calls on its members to contact their senators today to let them know the importance of S. 448 to a free press. The Society will continue to strongly support and advocate for a federal shield law, a fight that started with renewed strength in 2005, and one that will continue until a federal shield law is enacted.

As the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, SPJ is among a group of media organizations fighting to enact this vitally important legislation that will ensure accurate and ethical reporting will not be compromised by a fear of federal prosecution or subpoena. SPJ joins the Newspaper Association of America, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Radio and Television News Directors Association, and Investigative Reporters and Editors, among others. Learn more about SPJ’s efforts by clicking here.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.

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Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center
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