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Home > SPJ News > SPJ encourages Senate Judiciary Committee to move forward with shield bill

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SPJ encourages Senate Judiciary Committee to move forward with shield bill


9/24/2009


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For immediate release

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 discouraged by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s further delay of discussions about S. 448, the Free Flow of Information Act. SPJ again encourages the Committee to move quickly to reopen discussions and vote in short order so that the full Senate can, without delay, consider this federal shield law legislation that is vitally important to a free and independent press.

The bill would grant protections to journalists who refuse to reveal confidential sources. Currently, there is no such protection at the federal level. This is the second time in two weeks that the Committee has delayed talks regarding the bill, the first time on Sept. 17. Click here to read previous SPJ news releases on the shield law.

Delays have stemmed from the concerns of Democratic and Republican senators in cases of information involving national security. The bill contains provisions to safeguard national security when such instances arise.

“The continued delay of this legislation is baffling,” SPJ President Kevin Smith said. “Many people have worked diligently to make compromises that guarantee national security issues are effectively addressed. This bill does that, as did the version last Congress. As journalists, we don’t want to stand in the way when national security is truly threatened. But the specter of national security is now being used as a delay tactic to prevent the full Senate from considering this important piece of legislation.”

SPJ calls on its members who have voiced support for a federal shield law to continue their efforts both locally and in Washington. Many SPJ members – including Smith -- have contacted their senators to let them know the importance of S. 448. On Sept. 21, Smith also released an editorial on the shield law.

“What we’re asking is that national security issues be addressed before a judge who will weigh those merits against an overarching public concern,” Smith said. “Anything else is an attempt to quell the release of information that might be of relevance to the American public regarding the activities of their government.”

As the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, SPJ is among a group of media organizations fighting to enact this 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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