The proposed federal shield law for journalists has recently had a surge in momentum, and nearly every news organization and First Amendment advocacy group is applauding. But I’m not. As a strong believer in the importance of investigative reporting, I am naturally sympathetic to the idea of a federal shield law for journalists. Anything that helps people hold the government and others in power accountable for their actions is a good thing in my book. So what is the problem?
The problem with giving legal privileges based on someone’s “status” as a journalist is that it simply doesn’t make sense in light of the communications environment we live in today. Thanks to the Internet, there is no rational way to differentiate journalists from non-journalists. And further, there is no good reason to try to do it. Read more about Sword or Shield? Rethinking the Federal Shield Law