The Importance Of Shield Law

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Shield laws are enacted in 49 states and the District of Colombia (Riker, 2015), based on the First Amendment guarantee of Freedom of the Press (Shield Laws, n.d.). Although, most states have enacted shield laws for their journalists, there does not exist a federal journalist shield law. This is because the U.S. Supreme Court does not want to interpret the First Amendment as mandating a news reporter 's privilege (Shield Laws, n.d.). The media is supposed to have the role as the country 's watchdog. If the fear of getting subpoenaed, and maybe even penalized, causes the media to not tell the public about controversial matters, the main function of having the media is jeopardized. If journalists have to worry about being forced to testify in …show more content…
A lot of times media representatives have to promise not to reveal the identity of their sources, to get the information in the first place. Some sources have good reasons to fear retribution, and others do not want to be linked to a controversial matter. If this trust - between a journalist and his or her source - gets broken, it is hard to reestablish. Therefore, it is crucial for the media that they are protected by a shield law, so that journalists are not forced into a corner, and have to choose between loosing the public, old, current and possible future sources ' trust or going to …show more content…
The press has to be able to gather information from sources that want to stay anonymous, to secure the function of the society 's watchdog. And, the public should be able to go to the media and inform about controversial issues, without being afraid of getting their name revealed. If the media frequently reveal their sources, people are less likely to talk about troubling public concerns. A mutual trust between the government and the media, and the media and the public, must exist. The U.S. is ranked as the 49th nation in freedom of the press, due to the government 's frequent press on the media to reveal sources and material (World Press Freedom, 2015). When 48 countries are above the U.S on the list that defines how free the press is – which is the watchdog of the community, the guarder of the government and the public – how can America be the “land of the free”? If the media are going to continue the job as the watchdog, and expose controversial issues, and educate the public, it is strictly necessary, and to some extent inevitable that journalists can protect their

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