75 media companies and journalism organizations call for a Senate floor vote on the federal shield bill to protect journalists’ confidential sources
Coalition letter urges Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to calendar the Free Flow of Information Act as soon as possible
Director of Communications
June 11, 2014
Arlington, Va. – Seventy-five publishers, networks, broadcasters and journalism organizations, including the Newspaper Association of America, have signed a letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, to urge the Senate leaders to schedule a floor vote on the Free Flow of Information Act (S. 987) as soon as possible.
The letter comes one week after the Supreme Court declined to hear New York Times reporter James Risen's appeal. As a result, he may face jail time or fines for not revealing the identity of his confidential source for a book chapter about how the CIA may have given the Iranians valuable nuclear technology in a botched attempt to disrupt their nuclear program.
"Over the past decade, federal subpoenas have been issued with disturbing frequency to the press (or their service providers) by federal prosecutors, criminal defendants, and private litigants," reads the letter. "Several reporters were imprisoned and fined for not revealing the identities of their confidential sources."
The Free Flow of Information Act has strong bipartisan support. In September, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill by a 13-5 vote. It is sponsored by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and has a total of 24 co-sponsors from both parties.
"The Free Flow of Information Act is not a free pass for the press," reads the letter. "Instead, it sets forth reasonable standards to guide federal judges in assessing requests to compel journalists and their service providers to reveal information that could harm confidential sources and the news gathering process."
The federal shield law would follow 48 states and District of Columbia that already provide reasonable protections for journalists and confidential sources. These state shield laws, in some cases, have been on the books for decades without hindering law enforcement.
"The bill is a balanced approach that would protect the public’s right to know by providing protection for journalists and their confidential sources in criminal and civil cases, while enabling law enforcement officials to get the information they need to investigate and prosecute crimes and keep our nation secure," reads the letter.
To view the full letter and the organizations involved, please click here.
NAA is a nonprofit organization representing nearly 2,000 newspapers and their multiplatform businesses in the United States and Canada. NAA members include daily newspapers, as well as nondailies, other print publications and online products. Headquartered near Washington, D.C., in Arlington, Va., the association focuses on the major issues that affect today's newspaper industry: public policy/legal matters, advertising revenue growth and audience development across the medium's broad portfolio of products and digital platforms. Information about NAA and the industry also may be found at www.naa.org.