National Press Club

NPC praises reporter protection law

August 1, 2007

National Press Club President Jerry Zremski today lauded the House Judiciary Committee's passage of the Free Flow of Information Act, the so-called "shield law" aimed at protecting journalists and their confidential sources.

"The Free Flow of Information Act, as well as similar legislation in the Senate, offers journalists the protection they have earned under the First Amendment to engage in the reporting that ensures the American public continues to enjoy its right to know so elegantly etched into our Constitution," Zremski said. The National Press Club is part of a coalition of more than 40 media companies and organizations who have been working for federal protection of journalists' confidential sources. Zremski said passage of the law is essential.

"The intimidation is real. This is no hypothetical. Journalists are going to jail. Some news organizations are have very real and legitimate concerns about becoming federal prosecutors' de facto investigative units by the compelled disclosure of confidential sources," Zremski said.

While 33 states and the District of Columbia offer some degree of shield law protection and an additional 17 have seen court decisions safeguarding the identity of confidential news sources, there currently is no such protection at the federal level. As a result, several reporters have been subpoenaed in recent years, and some who have refused to reveal their sources have served jail time.