Connie Javens, the treasurer of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, recently lost in an effort to unmask an anonymous commenter on BeaverCountian.com. When the internet news-only site made a post regarding Javens and his daughter, many came forward to make unflattering comments about them under pseudonyms. In defense, the BeaverCountian relied on the shield law of Pennsylvania which states, “No person engaged in, connected with or employed by any newspaper of general circulation or any press association or any radio or television station, or any magazine of general circulation, for the purpose of gathering, procuring, compiling, editing or publishing news, shall be required to disclose the source of any information procured or obtained by such person, in any legal proceeding, trial or investigation before any government unit.” The court ruled in favor of the BeaverCountian, agreeing that the shield law completely covers the blog and its “anonymous sources”.
Holmes v. Winter
Fox news reporter Jana Winter refused to reveal her source when it came to a piece she wrote about the contents of a personal journal belonging to Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes. The journal contains “details about how he was going to kill people,” according to one of Winter’s sources. Winter described her sources as “law enforcement sources” and made it clear she was willing to go to jail in place of exposing her source. This case has won her much support and trust from her peers, but in her affidavit, Winter states” I have already begun to experience substantial harm to my ability to gather news from confidential sources, solely due to the attention that has already been paid to Holmes’ efforts to force me to reveal my confidential sources in this matter.” The case was disputed in New York’s top court in 2013 and decided in a 4-3 decision that Winter would not have to reveal her sources.