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SPJ condemns decision against Catherine Herridge and calls for protection of press freedom


Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins, SPJ National President, ashanti.blaize@gmail.com
Kim Tsuyuki, SPJ Communications Specialist, ktsuyuki@hq.spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists is concerned about a federal judge’s decision to hold former Fox News correspondent Catherine Herridge in contempt of court for refusing to reveal her sources.

“When courts force journalists to reveal their sources, this weakens the trust anonymous sources will have to come forward,” said SPJ National President Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins. "If that trust is weakened, journalists in some cases will not be able to hold those with power accountable. We urge the judge to reverse this decision.”

In 2017, Herridge reported that a Chinese American scientist was under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation during a series of stories. Last year, Judge Christopher Cooper of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a ruling that would force Herridge to reveal the identity of her anonymous source.

Since leaving Fox, Herridge went to work at CBS, but was included in the round of layoffs there last month. CBS officials seized her files, computers and records, which include information on privileged sources.

The case serves as a reminder of why journalists need a federal shield law. In June 2023, a bipartisan group of lawmakers reintroduced the Protect Reporters from Exploitive State Spying Act, known as the PRESS Act. The legislation would offer important safeguards to journalists, including preventing the government from compelling reporters to disclose their sources.

In January, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the PRESS Act. SPJ continues to urge the Senate to follow suit and pass the legislation quickly. Those who agree that the PRESS Act should be passed can call, write or message their senator encouraging them to vote in favor of this important legislation.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund or give to the SPJ Foundation.


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