Friday, April 16, 2010

Click Your Heels 3xs & Protect Sources: Kansas Passes Shield Law

The current state license plate design, introd...Image via Wikipedia
After a near-decade battle waged by the Kansas Press Assn., the Sunflower State has joined the ranks of 37 other states by enacting a Shield Law protecting journalists from having to disclose confidential sources.

Democratic Gov. Mark Parkinson signed the measure, which takes effect when it is published in the Kansas Statute Book due out July 1. The Senate Substitute for H.B. 2585 defines journalist as: " (1) a publisher, editor, reporter or other person employed by a newspaper, magazine, news wire service, television station or radio station who gathers, receives or processes information for communication to the public, or (2) an online journal in the regular business of newsgathering and disseminating news or information to the public."  The definition is broad enough to protect uncompensated bloggers.

The statute follows the language of the seminal U.S. Supreme Court decision, Branzburg v. Hayes,  408 U.S. 665 (1972), in that a party seeking disclosure of a journalist's newsgathering material or confidential sources must demonstrate in court the unavailability of the information elsewhere after a diligent search and that the information being sought is both relevant to the subject controversy and of compelling interest.

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