National Press Club

NPC Hails House Approval of Shield Bill

October 16, 2007

National Press Club President Jerry Zremski today lauded the House passage of the Free Flow of Information Act of 2007 (H.R. 2102).

The measure, which passed on a 398 to 21 vote, was backed by more than 50 media companies and organizations, including the National Press Club.

"We are thrilled that the House today passed the Free Flow of Information Act," Zremski said. "This is the most concrete step yet toward giving journalists and their sources the legal protection they need to tell important stories that the public needs to know. Without a federal shield law, journalists and their sources are increasingly at risk from overzealous prosecutors -- meaning would-be government whistleblowers may be increasingly wary of working with journalists to expose wrongdoing. A federal shield law will go a long way toward correcting that imbalance, thereby making it far more likely that journalists will be able to tell stories that hold government accountable for its actions."

The bill would ensure that reporters don't face federal prosecution for refusing to identify confidential sources except in special circumstances.

Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia offer some degree of shield law protection, while an additional 16 have seen judicial decisions supporting the safeguarding of confidential sources. At the federal level, however, there is currently no shield law protection, as evidenced by a wave of federal subpoenas that have threatened to (and in some cases actually have) put reporters behind bars.