Newseum panel debates federal reporter’s shield law

Reporters and media lawyers seemed optimistic about the proposed legislation that would establish a media shield law during a panel at the Newseum in Washington on Wednesday."I've got a better feeling now than I've ever had,” said Kevin Goldberg, legal counsel to the American Society of News Editors, even though the bill still faces major obstacles in Congress.New York Times correspondent Charlie Savage was less optimistic, saying he was skeptical any form of the bill would pass.The bill, known as the 2013 Free Flow of Information Act, passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

Congressional shield-law debate risks consigning student journalists to second-class legal status

There is exuberance -- cautious exuberance, to be sure, among those who've been to the threshold too many times -- that, as a byproduct of the Obama administration's shameful mistreatment of journalists, Congress will soon enact a reporter's privilege that protects journalists against demands to disclose their confidences.Largely lost in that exuberance is the vast distinction between competing versions of the "Free Flow of Information Act of 2013" in the House and Senate -- a distinction that could literally mean the difference between prison and freedom for student journalists.The reporter's privilege (or "reporter shield") enables a journalist to refuse to give testimony or surrender unpublished information in connection with a police investigation or legal proceeding.

Hawaii risks turning one of America’s best reporter’s privilege laws into one of the worst

Urged on by the state attorney general, a Hawaii Senate committee is proposing to drastically narrow the state's 2008 reporter shield statute, putting the ability of student journalists to protect confidential sources at risk.In amendments approved Wednesday, a Senate committee pared back the scope of the reporter's privilege so that it would benefit only journalists "professionally associated" with traditional news organizations.The current Hawaii statute enables two classes of people to protect their unpublished material and the identity of their sources if confronted with a demand in connection with a legal proceeding:(1) "[A] journalist or newscaster presently or previously employed by or otherwise professionally associated with any newspaper or magazine or any digital versiona thereof."(2) A person who can demonstrate by "clear and convincing evidence" that he or she "has regularly and materially participated in the reporting or publishing of news or information of substantial public interest for the purpose of dissemination to the general public" or that he or she occupies a position "materially similar or identical to that of a journalist or newscaster."It's that second class of protected people that Attorney General David M.

Covering protests and demonstrations: Staying safe if your campus is next to be “occupied”

As the Occupy Wall Street movement gathers steam in both New York City and at satellite locations across the country and internationally, some of those covering the event for commercial media have been called out for watching from afar, failing (or refusing) to take the time to talk with the protesters and hear their message.

ACLU claims Calif. district allowed “prolonged, coercive interrogations” of student journalists

The Davis Joint Unified School District in California is facing criticism after two high school journalists were pulled out of class and questioned by police.Alana de Hinojosa, editor in chief of The HUB newspaper at Davis High School, wrote an article last spring exploring the artistic value and criminal implications of graffiti.

Pennsylvania court says it’s okay for college to snoop on student email


 Surprise Yourself!

— Elizabethtown College recruiting slogan

A former student at Elizabethtown College was, indeed, probably surprised earlier this month after a Pennsylvania federal district court ruled that the school broke no rules when it hired an investigation service to snoop on his email account without his knowledge.In a

For California student videographer, a (non-)punishment that fits the (non-)crime

The second legal scrape of student videographer Josh Wolf's young career will not sting nearly so hard as the first.Wolf -- who holds the unwanted distinction of being America's longest-imprisoned journalist, for defying a federal grand jury subpoena to turn over videotapes shot at a protest rally -- got back into hot water in November 2009 for getting a little too close to the action at a demonstration on the University of California-Berkeley campus.Wolf was accused of three violations of UC-Berkeley's student conduct code when he remained inside a campus building occupied by student protesters despite a police order to leave.

Back to School Checklist: Evaluating your staff’s ‘media-law radar’

For better or worse, knowledge of the law continues to be an ever-growing part of the skill set required of all journalists, including students.One fairly quick -- and mostly painless/sometimes entertaining -- way to check how much your students/staff know about media law as they head back to the newsroom is to direct them to the SPLC's Test Your Knowledge of Student Media Law quiz series.