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Home > SPJ News > SPJ to host panel on federal shield law

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SPJ to host panel on federal shield law

For Immediate Release:
9/20/2007




Contact:
Beth King, Communications Manager, (317) 927-8000, ext. 211,

INDIANAPOLIS – Since 1984, 17 U.S. journalists have been jailed for their work. The most highly publicized cases have involved former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who spent 12 weeks in jail for refusing to reveal a source, and Josh Wolf, a San Francisco-based independent journalist who spent 226 days behind bars for refusing to hand over film he took during the 2005 G-8 economic summit.

These actions, along with several others that have not received national attention, have sparked a national conversation about whether journalists need a federal shield law to protect themselves and, more importantly, their sources.

During the 2007 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference, federal shield laws will be debated during a panel discussion. Serving on the panel are Randall Eliason, a professor from American University; Eve Burton, general counsel for Hearst Corp; Jim Taricani, a reporter at WJAR who was held in contempt of court, and Bruce Sanford, an attorney for Baker Hostetler. Mike Walter, an anchor with WUSA will moderate the panel. The event will take place at 10 a.m., Friday, Oct. 5 at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, 400 New Jersey Ave., NW in the Ticonderoga room.

“Journalists need to be able to promise confidentiality and protect their sources,” SPJ National President-Elect Clint Brewer said. “From Watergate to Enron, anonymous sources have been used by journalists to unmask some of the worst abuses of power in this country’s history. A federal shield law is needed to keep over-zealous prosecutors in check and to preserve the natural counterbalance journalism provides to government.”

To obtain a media credential for this event, please contact SPJ Communications Manager Beth King at (317) 927-8000, ext. 211. For more information about the 2007 SPJ National Convention & Journalism Conference — including a full convention schedule — or to register, visit SPJ's Web site.

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, visit www.spj.org.

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