Image via WikipediaWisconsin is poised to become the 39th state to enact a shield law to protect journalists from having to reveal confidential sources following state senate voice vote approval of 2009 Assembly Bill 333, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Democratic Gov. James Doyle Jr. is expected to sign into law the Whistleblower Protection Act sponsored by Sen. Pat Kreitlow (D-Chippewa Falls), which confers a qualified privilege on journalists against having to disclose newsgathering information or confidential sources. A government entity seeking such information from reporters would have to demonstrate its relevance, unavailability elsewhere, and an overriding public interest to overcome the shield law.
The Wisconsin Newspaper Assn., Wisconsin Broadcasters Assn., and Wisconsin Freedom Council all had a hand in the legislation. The District of Columbia and 38 states have passed shield laws. "TUOL" believes it only fitting that a state whose capital, Madison, honors the drafter of the First Amendment, should join the ranks of states protecting journalists.