National Press Club

Media Shield Legislation to be Debated Sept. 17

September 14, 2009 | By Donna Leinwand |

The Senate Judiciary Committee will debate the Free Flow of Information Act, a media shield bill sponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., on Thursday, Sept. 17.

Last week, the Judiciary Committee adopted a substitute amendment supported by the National Press Club and 69 other media organizations that creates qualified privilege to protect journalists from being forced to reveal confidential sources except in cases of national security and criminal conduct.

"A free and vibrant press is essential to a free society," Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Sept. 10. "Scores of reporters have been questioned by federal prosecutors about their sources, notes and reports in recent years. This is a dangerous trend that has a chilling effect on the press and the public's right to know."

The legislation would establish a qualified privilege for journalists to protect their sources. The House passed a similar measure March 31.