U.S. House Passes Amendment Protecting Journalists From Revealing Sources

By Shawn Paul Wood Comment


Freedom of Press? Sure. Freedom for Sources? Meh.


This has often been the force field used by journalists to thwart the attempts of disclosing information from those ne’er-do-wells out there in journalism world. It is the safe word for any reporter finding themselves getting sued for some investigative reporting.

And therein lies the rub — sometimes the “source” have been getting snuffed out by a $500-per-hour attorney who can get around those pesky first and fourth amendments. To wit, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) is standing up for … the journalists?!


Yes, hacks. There is someone out there who loves you, rather than just your parents, kids, interns, and PR pros who pitch you four times daily. Affectionately known as the “Shield Law,” Congressman Grayson introduced legislation to protect reporters and journalists from being compelled to reveal confidential sources.

According to his office’s press release, Grayson’s measure was added to H.R. 4660, the ‘Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act’, and prohibits the Department of Justice from using funds to force journalists to testify about information or sources.

“The purpose of this amendment is to raise the possibility of a Federal shield law that corresponds to shield law already in place in 49 States, but not at the level of the Federal Government,” Grayson explained.“A shield law is legislation designed to protect a reporter’s privilege or the right of news reporters to refuse to testify as to information and sources of information obtained during a news gather and dissemination process. In short, a reporter should not be forced to reveal his or her source.”

The legislation was passed with a 225-183 vote (with a side note that some of that 183 have probably sent Twitpics they are not proud of distributing). And when it passed, this happened.

MEMO to Media: I think more people like you than it seems.