California high school journalists honored after invoking state shield law

A trio of student journalists who fought to protect confidential sources while investigating events surrounding a peer’s suicide earned recognition this month from the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The team from Saratoga High School’s The Saratoga Falcon — Samuel Liu, Sabrina Chen and Cristina Curcelli — were honored in the high school category of the James Madison Freedom of Information Awards.

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reporter's privilege (or "reporter shield") enables a journalist to refuse to give testimony or surrender unpublished information in connection with a police investigation or legal proceeding.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.

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.

Former Northwestern student journalist wins significant reporter’s privilege victory

A former student journalist at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism does not have to reveal documents or give testimony about her investigative reporting that helped free a wrongfully convicted man from prison, a federal judge has ruled.The ruling in favor of Carolyn Nielsen -- who now teaches journalism at Western Washington University in Bellingham -- is significant because it recognizes no distinction between the ability of a student journalist versus a professional journalist to claim the protection of the reporter's privilege.The case involves a lawsuit by Thaddeus Jimenez, who was freed from prison in May 2009 -- after serving 16 years of a 45-year sentence -- with the help of a Northwestern University legal clinic and evidence gathered by Nielsen in her reporting.