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SPJ encourages journalists to support Shield Law after introduction in Congress


For Immediate Release:

Dave Aeikens, SPJ President, (320) 255-8744,
Scott Leadingham, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 927-8000 ext. 211, sleadingham@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists is calling on its nearly 9,000 members and other journalists around the country to support a federal shield bill that would protect reporters and their confidential sources. The bill, H.R. 985, was introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Rick Boucher, D-Va., and Mike Pence, R-Ind.

Known as the Free Flow of Information Act, the measure would build on the laws, administrative procedures and judicial decisions in 49 states that already provide such protections at the state level. After unsuccessful attempts to pass such a federal law in 2008, SPJ is pleased that the legislation is once again becoming a priority in Congress.

“A truly free press needs a guarantee that reporting will go unencumbered without the fear of any prosecution,” SPJ President Dave Aeikens said.

This is an issue that affects more than members of the press.

“The public is served when journalists report, especially when serving an important investigatory and watchdog role,” said Aeikens. “This law isn’t just for journalists – it’s for everyone, and it’s essential to maintaining a healthy democracy.”

SPJ encourages all journalists to join our fight in improving and protecting journalism by contacting their congressman and asking him or her to vote in favor of the measure. Contact information for members of the House of Representatives can be found here.

The bill introduced today is the same bill that passed the House by a landslide vote last Congress. A similar version stalled in the Senate. Even if Congress had passed a shield law last year, President Bush threatened a veto based on the recommendation of then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

SPJ has been encouraged that President Obama has indicated his supported for a federal shield law. Newly confirmed Attorney General Eric Holder, in his confirmation hearing, echoed that sentiment as well. Read an article about the Obama administration’s support here.

Along with SPJ, a number of other organizations have joined the effort to pass a federal shield law, including the Newspaper Association of American, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Radio and Television News Directors Association, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. Learn more about SPJ’s efforts by clicking here.

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.


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