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SPJ leaders commend House vote of H.R. 2102, call upon representatives’ support for passing

For Immediate Release:

Clint Brewer, President, (615) 301-9229
Beth King, Communications Manager, (317) 927-8000, ext. 211

INDIANAPOLIS – Leaders of the Society of Professional Journalists are urging members of the United States House of Representatives to pass the Free Flow of Information Act of 2007. If passed, the bill would help journalists protect the identities of their sources and the information provided by those sources.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed S. 2035 on Oct. 4, which is also known as the Free Flow of Information Act of 2007. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.) is scheduled to bring H.R. 2102 to the floor for a full House vote on Capitol Hill tomorrow at 10 a.m. EST. The bill was introduced in May by Reps. Rick Boucher, (D-Va.) and Mike Pence, (R-Ind.). The bill, with bi-partisan support from 71 co-sponsors, has progressed further in the 110th Congress than any shield bill to date.

“The bipartisan support this bill is receiving and the priority it is being shown by House leaders is encouraging as this is an extremely important bill for the health of our democracy,” SPJ National President Clint Brewer said. “America is not a country where journalists should be jailed, and this bill will allow the working press and those acting as journalists to serve society without fear of reprisal or intrusion from over-zealous prosecutors.”

The Free Flow of Information Act of 2007, or the federal shield bill, would protect the public’s right to speak out and promote the people’s right to know. It calls for a qualified privilege that would make it easier for journalists to protect the identities of their confidential sources.

In the last year, SPJ has raised more than $30,000 to support a campaign for the passage of a federal shield law. The work to ensure passage of such a law is ongoing. To learn more about SPJ’s efforts, please visit SPJ's Shield Law page.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) has offered a damaging amendment that would eviscerate many of the protections in the bill. SPJ also urges representatives to vote against the Smith amendment.

“SPJ encourages its members and journalists everywhere to make known their feelings on the federal shield bill by calling their own members of Congress and letting them know as constituents that a free press is vital and important to our country,” Brewer added. “SPJ will also continue to support this effort on behalf of its members and journalists everywhere.”

The shield, as drafted, may apply not only to traditional print, television and radio journalists, but also may include coverage for freelancers and bloggers.

Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia have various statues that protect journalists from being forced to testify or disclose sources and information. No statutory protection currently exists for federal cases.

H.R. 2102 co-sponsors are: Reps. Tammy Baldwin, (D-Wisc.), Shelley Berkley, (D-Nev.), Earl Blumenauer, (D-Ore.), Roy Blunt, (R-Mo.), G.K. Butterfield, (D-N.C.), Lois Capps, (D-Calif.), Russ Carnahan, (D-Mo.), Kathy Castor, (D-Fla.), Howard Coble, (R-N.C.), Steve Cohen, (D-Tenn.), John Conyers, (D-Mich.), Jim Cooper, (D-Tenn.), Joe Courtney, (D-Conn.), Elijah Cummings, (D-Md.), Norman Dicks, (D-Wash.), William Delahunt, (D-Mass.), Rosa DeLauro, (D-Conn.), Mike Doyle (D-Penn.), Rahm Emanuel, (D-Ill.), Phil English (R-Penn.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Mary Fallin, (R-Okla.), Michael Ferguson, (R- N.J.), Jeff Flake, (R-Ariz.), Luis Fortuno (R- P.R.), Scott Garrett, (R-N.J.), Charlie Gonzalez, (D-Texas), Al Green, (D-Texas), Gene Green, (D-Texas), Luis Gutierrez, (D-Ill.), Alcee Hastings, (D-Fla.), Sheila Jackson Lee, (D-Texas), Patrick Kennedy, ( D- R.I.), John R. “Randy” Kuhl, (R-N.Y.), Nick Lampson, (D-Texas), John Larson, (D-Conn), Ron Lewis (R-Ky.), Zoe Lofgren, (D-Calf.), Connie Mack, (R-Fla.), Michael McCaul, (R-Texas), Thaddueus McCotter (R-Mich.), Gregory Meeks, ( D-N.Y.), Christopher Murphy, (D-Conn.), Grace Napolitano, (D- Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton, (D-D.C.), Solomon Ortiz, (D-Texas), Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Donald Payne, (D-N.J.), Mike Pence, (R-Ind.), Todd Platts, (R-Penn.), Ted Poe, R-Texas), Adam Putnam, (R-Fla.), George Radanovich, (R-Calf.), Thomas Reynolds, (R-N.Y.), Steven Rothman (D-N.J.), Dutch Ruppersberger, (D-Md.), Paul Ryan, (R-Wisc.), Jan Schakowsky, (D-Ill.), Christopher Shays, (R-Conn.), Edolphus Towns, (D-N.Y.), Tom Udall, (D-N.M.) Fred Upton, (R-Mich.), Timothy Walberg (R-Mich.), Greg Walden, (R-Ore.), Jim Walsh, (R-N.Y.), Debbie Schultz Wasserman, (D-Fla.), Diane Watson, (D-Calif.), Robert Wexler, (D-Fla.), Frank Wolf, (R-Va.), David Wu, (D-Ore.) and John Yarmuth, (D-Ky.).

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists 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 further information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.


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