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February 21, 2007


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Frederick Hamilton

A big issue is the "serious-journalist" designation. I like a large number of people find a much better journalism with much more in-depth analysis on the internet. From a number of sites. Hardly a one from the web sites of "serious-journalist" sources such as NYT, WSJ, WaPo, et al.

So, how would the internet journalists who are every bit as serious as their full time truncated MSM bretheren be treated in your new priveldge law?

Frederick Hamilton

For instance, if Prof Bainbridge was given privelege to a source informing him of illegal activity at a large corportation or Prof Stone was given off the record secret source information from an al Qaeda informant about a terrorist activity, would they be protected?

Political Umpire

The internet rather undermines a lot of traditional censorship and confidentiality laws. I have a copy of a private ruling on a sensitive matter (the shooting by the British police of an innocent person mistakenly thought to be a terrorist). If I published it in this country I'd be in contempt of court. But I could very easily send it electronically from an internet cafe to a friend overseas who could put it on a blogsite. The friend would be outside the UK jurisdiction and therefore untouchable, while no-one could trace where her source came from. I wonder in the long term what effect the internet will have ...

Joan A. Conway

The New York Times is a propaganda rag!


I think Frederick Hamilton and Politlcal Umpire raise a very important point that works in concert with the concers regarding what kind of person constitutes a serious journalist. Would Mike Drudge of the Drudge Report be protected? How about students at an undergraduate or law school news paper breaking local political news? There are pros and cons on both sides of the argument. Regardless, the prevailing interests likely favor a qualified privilege over an absolute alternative. At least in this regard, the protections could extend beyond the sphere of serious-journalist and extend to internet upstarts and activists like Josh Wolf.

Frederick Hamilton

Actually Matt Drudge, and the overall point is that the main stream press media is in a steep decline both in readership and profits and attempting to give only "priveledges" to this dying behomth would not be appropriate.

Even the owner/publisher of the NYT wasn't sure there would be a print NYT in 10 years or so.

More info will be exchanged by journalists over the internet and with streaming video et al so whatever Prof Stone has in mind will need to take into account the rapidly changing face of journalism. The old days of David Broder, Judith Miller, Thomas Friedman, William Safire, Maureen Dowd, Charles Krauthammer, Robert Novak, et al being the fountain of information is history. They are the ones now who only skim the news/facts. The real digging into the news is being handled on the internet. Ergo. What would Prof Stone's new law look like.

Would Baninbridge, Malkin, Kos, Power Line, Hugh Hewitt, Volkoh, Instapundit (Tenn. Lawyer Glen Reynolds), Stone himself, Becker-Posner, be considered journalists in his new legislation?


"A serious journalist-source privilege is imperative to the national interest."

Imepartive in what sense? The fact that there is presently no federal privilege and never has been one seems to cut against its importance. How has the country made it this far without it?

It is not like you can argue that things like the Watergate revelations would have never happened without the privilege, since, after all, the Watergate revelations happened without the privilege.

It is difficult, close to impossible, to point out individual instances where people have not come forward because there was no privilege. The fact is they didn't come forward, so we don't know that they would have come forward. But this means that the policy argument behind having a privilege is based on a complete unknown. And as you point out, we shouldn't let the privilege be shaped by hypotheticals.

Joan A. Conway

Frederick Hamilton | February 22, 2007 at 08:58 AM and student | February 22, 2007 at 12:45 PM, I am not sure those golden old days were anymore serious about journalism as the so called journalist of today!

Simply because Americans knew less, challenged information a lot less, and the official coverage of having an actual source or editorial associated with someone's name rarely was discussed with TV viewers, if not at all with Radio viewers. Early media viewers and listeners were babes in the woods as far as authority was concerned. Those old days were days of innocence and exploitation, and if today resembles it in anyway, then we have done little to advance the knowledge that you can not trust what you read. Read Ugo Collelo, University of Tulene, "Trust the Tale and not the Author" 1996: Legislative Motive in California.

Frederick Hamilton

I agree we have come a long way. Now supposed authoritative news sources such as the NYT and CBS which in the past would have been trusted out of hand to be presenting the truth are now under the scrutiny of experts who can get out the real truth through the internet rapidly and debunk obvious untruths and bias. I too growing up remember the seemingly innocent time ot trusting the main stream media.

That is my point with regard to protecting journalists and their sources. We have been shown too often that journalists at CBS, NYT and others fabricate and lie. Why would anyone want to be giving folks like that protection?

A great example is the ongoing trial of Libby. What a mockery of justice. It is interesting to see the entanglement "journalists" have placed themselves in with regard to government sources.

I am afraid Prof Stone is shouting in the wilderness with a proposal that today makes no sense unless his legislation would protect everybody that is engaged in the business of "journalism". You, I, he, Baninbridge, Kos, Huffington, Malkin, Hewitt, Reynolds, Drudge, et al.

The main stream media has earned the distrust of America. I do mean "earned". To give only the main stream media protection from breaking the law as now constructed regarding telling the truth to a federal law enforcement officer or federal court makes no sense.

Anne Hiltner

The New York Times has been upset in the past three years at the republication of a book on the press by a Chicago journalist of 1950 which traces the claims of the press to anonymous sources through the courts wich ridiculed the idea that the scurrilous press has the education, degrees, certifications, or merit of the "professionals" with a confidentiality privilege. Apparently the UofC hasn't kept up with its librar work either - utterly disgraceful reprint!
PS Do you think Dateline on NBC with To Catch a Predator series on internet sex with young people is a form of disallowable ENTRAPPMENT?


I was somewhat unpersuaded by this article. Then I noticed the title. "NOW" is in ALL CAPS. Holy S**t! That changes everything. Just like those little twinkly comments on Myspace mean "I Luv U" in Teen-ese.

This is really an issue of profound importance. This morning, as I read about salacious and flirty emails between NASA employees and noticed that most muggers were described as "5'8" and wearing a dark sweatshirt" in today's papers, I thought to myself: these news organizations are full of integrity and useful, clear, and unfiltered information. How much further they could go if only they had a federal journalist shield law.

WAY TO GO GEOFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

P.S. Wasn't that better than "Way to Go, Geoff."?

Lackawanna Blues

Amen, brother Roach.

We need about 150,000 things before we need a federal journalist shield law NOW. One of those things is fewer law professors. Another is government employees who actually respect government confidences.

If the choice is between trusting government and trusting journalists I choose trusting neither.

I'm sure that those Americans who raise families and toil for somewhat less than Professor Stone makes couldn't give a rip about a federal journalist shield law. They probably care even less about whether we get one NOW.

Frederick Hamilton

From 1958 to 1962 Johnny Carson hosted a daytime quiz show called "Who do you Trust".

That show should be brought back today and used to dissect current events and current problems.

Imagine a full hour show on "Who do you Trust" regarding global warming. Lawrence Solomon of the Canadian Financial Post has been writing a series on "The Deniers" about scientists who poke large holes in the whole global warming issue. Latest is a famous enviornmentalist and geophysicist from France (Allegre I believe) who blows huge holes in global warming.

Ergo, Who do you trust? Journalists? Not on your life. Boy, they carry an agenda baggage. Politicians. Worse than journalists. Sorry, non serious thinkers only interested in the next election. The most trusted in my mind are people in the blogosphere who put forth a point of view with facts to double check and an in depth analysis that no politician or journalist cares to engage in.

Ergo. Protect the bloggers and let the journalists go to hell and get their devils due.

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