Study Questions

1. What are three ways that the government must prove in court in order for the journalist to testify?

  1. the requested information is relevant to specific investigation
  2. the government has a compelling need
  3. there is no alternative way to acquire the information

2. Are the current bills adequate?

No. Most journalism organizations acknowledge the bills are not perfect. Far from perfect, really. But having some protection is better than none at all.

3. What is a “qualified” privilege?

It’s a balance, and the government needs to have a good reason to force journalists to cough up their notes or sources. Because case law has not been particularly strong, many states have passed shield laws to provide further protections for journalists.


Study Questions

4. Where was the Shield Law first passed?
-The First Shield Law was enacted in Maryland on April 2,1896.
5. Which is the only state that doesn’t have the shield law?
6. Is there currently a federal law regarding shield laws?
– No
7. What are shield laws designed to do?

– They are designed to ensure confidentiality of news sources.

8.Do shield laws provide complete protection?

– No, they offer different amounts of protection between varying origins.

9.Which case first raised the issue regarding shield laws?

– Branzburg v. Hayes (1972)

10. What are the downsides to having a federal shield law?

– nothing to stop reporters from withholding information potentially harmful to national security

– Special treatment only for journalists

– Once the government begins to ask “who can be considered a journalist?”, they will be inclined to begin licensing journalists, leading to lack of full expression similar to other countries.