The Issue Of Shield Laws Essay

1229 Words Oct 28th, 2015 null Page
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 court, they might not write the stories in the first place – which means that without a shield law the press is not free. Where these laws exist, journalists should be able to gather stories without fearing they might have to reveal sources, notes and unpublished recordings in court. Jones ' study (2009) found that journalists have started to ask themselves whether doing a story, is worth the possible legal battle in the aftermath. 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…

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