David Westin Testifies In D.C.; Tells Judiciary Committee That Legal Climate Is Influencing Editorial Decisions At ABC News

By Brian 

ABC News president David Westin testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the subject of Reporters’ Privilege Legislation on Wednesday. The text of his testimony is now online.

Westin told the committee that confidentiality is an essential part of reporting some important stories; Congress needs to determine whether federal law offers any form of protection for reporters seeking to keep their sources confidential; federal law shold give specific protection to reporter’s confidential sources and unpublished work materials; and it should be left to the courts, not prosecutors, to determine whether the federal shield should be applied.

This seems to be the most important passage of his testimony:

“This shift in prosecutors’ attention to journalists as witnesses is well known in newsrooms around the country. I can tell you from personal experience that it now influences editorial decisions we make at ABC News. More than ever, our decision whether to report a story depends on more than simply whether we are confident of the truth of our story and its importance. Increasingly, we have to consider as well whether — even if we’re sure we’re right and we believe the story worth reporting — it’s worth someone potentially going to jail. There are stories to this day that we believe meet this high standard. But, let’s be clear: A certain and direct result of prosecutors pursuing journalists to reveal their sources is that some information is not being told to the American people, despite the fact that the information is true and it otherwise deserves to be told.”

> B&C also has a recap…