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Orlando Sentinel — Our position: A federal shield law for journalists protects everyone's interests

Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel
Feb. 22, 2008

Why is anyone debating over whether there needs to be a federal shield law protecting the confidentiality of sources?

It's a no-brainer, all wrapped up in a strong affirmation of this country's First Amendment rights.

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Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel
Feb. 22, 2008

Why is anyone debating over whether there needs to be a federal shield law protecting the confidentiality of sources?

It's a no-brainer, all wrapped up in a strong affirmation of this country's First Amendment rights.

Already, 49 states, including Florida, protect reporters from having to reveal confidential sources in most cases. There's good reason for that:

Those laws protect a lot more people than journalists, who could be hauled into court and sent to jail if they don't give up their sources.

Those laws serve everyone's best interests, because a free flow of information makes governments and other powerful institutions accountable. It also encourages whistle-blowers and insiders to expose wrongdoing.

It's now time for the Senate to pull together enough votes to make this a federal law. The House has already voted in favor of a companion bill, 398-21, after strong support from members such as Orlando's Ric Keller and Oviedo's Tom Feeney.

Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, who hasn't take a position on the measure, needs to follow the lead of Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, who has been a longtime advocate of a federal shield law.

Most of the objections have come from those who claim the bill will undermine law enforcement or national security, but the bill would allow exceptions in those cases, provided the courts concurred.

The shield law just isn't about reporters. It's protects everyone's interests.

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