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Encourage your congressperson to support Free Flow of Information Act


Two versions of the Free Flow of Information Act have now been introduced in Congress, each with bipartisan support. HR 987 was introduced by Representatives Ted Poe (R-Texas), John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Trey Radel (R-Fla.), and S 1962 was introduced by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.). Although there are slight differences between the two, either bill would create a much-needed federal "shield" law that would offer, for the first time, a statutory reporter's privilege that could be invoked when federal authorities seek information, including the identity of a source, from a reporter engaged in newsgathering activities. ASNE would be more than happy to see either bill enacted into law. 
 
Two versions of the Free Flow of Information Act have now been introduced in Congress, each with bipartisan support. HR 987 was introduced by Representatives Ted Poe (R-Texas), John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Trey Radel (R-Fla.), and S 1962 was introduced by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.). Although there are slight differences between the two, either bill would create a much-needed federal "shield" law that would offer, for the first time, a statutory reporter's privilege that could be invoked when federal authorities seek information, including the identity of a source, from a reporter engaged in newsgathering activities. ASNE would be more than happy to see either bill enacted into law.
 
As ASNE Executive Director Arnie Robbins noted, "The recent events surrounding the Department of Justice's subpoena of telephone records belonging to the Associated Press and its reporters demonstrates that the attorney general's voluntary guidelines regarding the issuance of subpoenas to the media simply do not provide enough protection for the free flow of information between reporters and sources. Allowing this incident to pass without changing the current balance between the Department of Justice and reporters -- which is really no balance at all -- threatens the future of newsgathering on important issues, including many relating to our safety, security and rule of law. The past week has shown us just how absolutely necessary it is to have a reporter's privilege applicable in federal proceedings. The American Society of News Editors fully supports the passage of the Free Flow of Information Act to create that protection."
 
We hope that you will express your support for these bills to your members of Congress if they return home during the upcoming Memorial Day recess. We have published some talking points drafted for use by the coalition of more than 40 media companies and organizations, including ASNE, that formally support these bills. Please feel free to use them if you are interested in editorializing in favor of the shield law or if you will be meeting with your representative or senator in the next few weeks.
 
Please do not hesitate to contact ASNE Legal Counsel Kevin M. Goldberg at (703) 812-0462 or goldberg@fhhlaw.com if you have any questions.

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