Friday, February 8, 2013

Mass. Again Ponders Shield Law: Will 3 Times Be the Charm?

State House
 (Photo credit: brentdanley)
Article 16 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights predated the Framers of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment recognition of the importance of a free press.  Yet, Bay State solons perennially come up short when it comes to enacting a shield law to protect journalists from having to disclose confidential sources to authorities.

Perhaps persistence will have its rewards, as Rep. Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley), whose proposed Free Flow of Information Act stalled last year (see "TUOL" post 3/1/12), has again introduced a shield law bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Josh Cutler (D-Duxbury), a former editor of the Duxbury Clipper, reports the MetroWest Daily News.

The latest measure encompasses student journalists and "any entity that is in the regular business of gathering and disseminating news or information to the public by any means." It also includes an exemption in cases in which a journalist's testimony would disclose "imminent acts of harm."

The shield law-lovin' staff of "TUOL" has been reporting on this issue for awhile (see "TUOL" post 2/19/10), and being headquartered in the Cradle of Liberty, is profoundly embarrassed that Massachusetts seems unable to join the 40 states and the District of Columbia that have enacted shield laws.
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