Thursday, April 30, 2009

Texas likely to enact shield law for journalists

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is expected to sign a journalists' shield law that was passed by the state Senate Tuesday. The law would "bring to a close three decades of lobbying and wrangling over the issue," writes Mike Ward of the Austin American-Statesman. Except for some debate over an unsuccessful amendment to require journalists to note that stories were based on anonymous stories, the bill sailed through the Senate vote.

The legislation "ensures journalists can keep their sources and notes confidential while still allowing law enforcement the ability to acquire truly necessary material," said Sen. Rodney Ellis, the bill's Senate sponsor. He notes that the law is not an "unbreakable shield," since it provides for certain instances where confidential sources must be named.

Before it goes to the governor, the bill will return to the House for approval of small changes made in the Senate. Thirty-six other states, and the District of Columbia, already have shield laws, and all other states but Wyoming recognize a reporter's privilege in case law. (Read more)

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