SPJ celebrates passage of shield law bill from committee
INDIANAPOLIS – Leaders of the Society of Professional Journalists are celebrating the news that the Free Flow of Information Act, more commonly known as the federal shield law, passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today. It now goes to the full Senate for a vote, although no timetable has been set.
“This is a valuable piece of legislation that provides a greater flow of information to the American public and protects a journalist’s anonymous sources,” SPJ President Kevin Smith said. “We are enthusiastic about it and its future in the legislative process.”
After months of discussion, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the shield bill shortly before 1 p.m. EST. Among the many amendments presented during today’s hearing, the final debate centered around a proposal by Sens. Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Durbin (D-Ill.) that would have narrowly limited the definition of a covered person. Last week, SPJ strongly opposed this amendment and was encouraged by the committee’s vote against it today.
SPJ has fought for years alongside other media organizations to pass a bill that protects the free flow of information vital to a well-informed democratic society. Another version of the shield bill reached the Senate floor in 2008, though opponents successfully stalled a final vote. Read SPJ’s statement about the previous version here.
“This moment has been five years in the making and a great amount of effort has been put forth to reach this point,” Smith said. “While we understand this is a work in progress and it must win a floor vote, we are confident that the merits of this legislation will carry it.”
SPJ strongly urges the Senate to consider this vitally important legislation without delay.
“The American public won a victory today because this bill provides an opportunity for more information to reach them,” Smith said.
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.