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SPJ Joins Call for Federal Shield Law Legislation

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CONTACT: Irwin Gratz, President, (207) 874-6570 or igratz@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS -- The board of directors of the Society of Professional Journalists voted Wednesday, March 9 to back federal shield law legislation.

“We are proud to be joining with the many other organizations that support this idea, including the Newspaper Association of America, the National Newspaper Association, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, The Radio-Television News Directors Association, the National Press Photographers Association and great news media companies like the New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Court TV, Cox Enterprises, E.W. Scripps and Time, Inc.,” said SPJ President Irwin Gratz, a radio news anchor with the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

“A federal shield law has become essential now that prosecutors appear less constrained about hauling journalists before courts and grand juries,” Gratz continued. “Courts are proving little help either, setting aside the partial protections recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in its Branzburg v. Hayes ruling.”

In the months ahead, the Society will work with other supporters of federal shield law legislation and members of Congress to craft a law that offers the maximum protection for journalism in all its varied forms. The Society will also be making its case to the public. As Gratz points out, “They are the ones who are served by a free flow of information and they will feel the chill if sources become less willing to speak and journalists afraid to listen.”

The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. SPJ is dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, and based in Indianapolis, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed public, works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists, and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.


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