“This comprehensive litany of triumphs and failures ... pull(s) together the many threads that make up the stormy history of the journalists’ privilege into one compact volume. If I were still working at a law firm, I’d make it required reading for any new associates who want to practice media law.”

   

--Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly

Privileging the Press
Confidential Sources,
Journalism Ethics
and the First Amendment 

 

 

New York, NY: LFB Scholarly Publishers, 2011

 

In the last 10 years, American journalists have faced unprecedented legal problems in protecting confidential sources. In this book, a media law scholar and former journalist examines how subpoenas for newsgathering information have raised both old and new legal and ethical problems, at a time when journalistic independence and authority have come under attack by profound economic and social changes. The research explores the ethical and legal evolution of the privilege drawing on research into cases in the 19th century, the First Amendment principle that emerged in the middle of the 20th century, the public policy implications debated in congressional hearings in the 1970s, and the rise and fall of common law protections in the federal courts between 1972 and 2003. The author also interviews key journalists and media lawyers in recent high-profile privilege cases. In tracing the development of the journalist's privilege from colonial times to the present, the author finds a dynamic interaction among journalism ethics, free-press theory and legal jurisprudence that supports qualified legal protections for journalists.