Shield Law

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of a federal "shield" law on Thursday, but still refused to include Julian Assange, Edward Snowden or citizen bloggers in the group of protected journalists.

A shield law allows a journalist to protect a confidential source unless the government can present a compelling reason, such as national security, to demand the source's name. Most states have shield laws but there is no federal law.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: President Barack Obama's public relations offensive to counter bad press about the NSA snooping on Americans and investigators snooping on reporters suffered multiple setbacks in the past week.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

A bipartisan group of senators is pressing forward with a reporter shield bill that includes new Justice Department guidelines for investigations that involve the media.

The guidelines announced Friday would make it harder for prosecutors to obtain journalists’ phone records without advance notice. Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri says the new bill will make it much more difficult for political appointees to stop reporters from doing their job.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Contrary to conventional wisdom, the proposed federal shield law backed by the press and President Barack Obama wouldn’t help reporters protect their sources in big national security cases, such as the recent ones involving the AP and James Rosen of Fox.  In fact, the law could make it harder for the press to protect sources in those cases.