Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Ruling to Make Reporters Act Like Drug Dealers? 376

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the i'll-take-two-stories-and-a-book-review dept.
netbuzz writes "A 2-1 New York appeals court ruling yesterday will require two reporters to cough up their telephone records over a property-seizure case unless it gets reversed on appeal. As the dissenting judge noted, this kind of erosion of press protections will have reporters 'contacting sources the way I understand drug dealers do to reach theirs -- by use of clandestine cell phones and meeting in darkened doorways.' It's long past time for a federal shield law."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ruling to Make Reporters Act Like Drug Dealers?

Comments Filter:
  • Woah, cool! (Score:5, Funny)

    by avalys (221114) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:50AM (#15832516)
    " 'contacting sources the way I understand drug dealers do to reach theirs -- by use of clandestine cell phones and meeting in darkened doorways.'"

    Cool! Just like the movies. Leave it like this, the reporters will have fun.

    • Now everyone can be a Deep Throat.
    • Cool! Just like the movies. Leave it like this, the reporters will have fun.

      And this becoming a common practice will make it easier to get rid of too disquiet reporters...

      "The use of illegal cell phones is so... unprofessional. Now handle your licence."
      "Well of course he got killed! Don't you see where he has been!."
    • Already true (Score:5, Interesting)

      by andrewman327 (635952) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @01:14PM (#15833183) Homepage Journal
      I am a reporter for my college paper with a penchant for investigative pieces. I already meet with sources in secret. Once I met with someone on a bridge over a highway for privacy's sake. Even where there are journalist shield laws, they do not protect the source. People who leak information (especially in law enforcement) can get in incredible trouble without the journalist having to reveal anything.


      If you have read or watched All the President's Men, you will remember the secrecy that went into their meetings. Even though that is largely exagerated, it is not that far off the mark.

  • Good, and now when the phone records are divulged, we'll find out that reporters actually don't talk to anybody. All news is ficticious. Remember the movie Wag the Dog? [imdb.com]
    • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <[Satanicpuppy] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:54AM (#15832558) Journal
      If you really think that, what methods do you use to get information about the world?

      The press can suck, no doubt, but they're the best check on government we have in this country. Every law that hinders their ability to do their jobs, is a law that favors closed, tyrannical, government.
      • by Otter (3800) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:59AM (#15832605) Journal
        If you really think that, what methods do you use to get information about the world?

        He said it already -- he knows the news is fiction because a fictional movie said so.

      • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:04PM (#15832646) Homepage Journal
        The press can suck, no doubt, but they're the best check on government we have in this country. Every law that hinders their ability to do their jobs, is a law that favors closed, tyrannical, government.


        And this is exactly what they were thinking of when they wrote the First Amendment to the Constitution:

        Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


        So what I want to know is this: what part of "no law" did the legislatures not understand?
        • by WilliamSChips (793741) <full.infinity@gmai l . com> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:14PM (#15832707) Journal
          The "no law" part.
        • The press can say whatever they want, they're just not allowed to do any research or deviate from the party line!

          Perfectly constutitional, fellow citizen! If you disagree, I will use my freedom of speech to report you to the Department of Homeland Security. :)
        • by acvh (120205) <geek@mscigar s . com> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:15PM (#15832717) Homepage
          "what part of "no law" did the legislatures not understand?"

          what part of "Congress shall make no law...." did YOU miss?

          AND - how does requiring a reporter to obey the same laws and judicial orders that I have to obey abridge the freedom of the press. No one in this case is asking for prior restraint on publication or prosecution for publication; apparently a crime is being investigated (and I do believe that tipping off the subject of an investigation, allowing them to destroy evidence, is a crime).

          I am no fan of government, but I am also no fan of knee-jerk responses to complex issues. A reporter for the NY Times is not above the law.

          • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:29PM (#15832810) Homepage Journal
            what part of "Congress shall make no law...." did YOU miss?


            Maybe you should read the part about the powers of Judiciary. The Judiciary has no power to pass laws. (Judicial orders are another story, of course).

            The problem with rulings like this is that they have a chilling effect on investigative reporting. If you're happy to have reporters cowering in fear of doing any real digging on a story, fine then. But the press is about the only true check we as citizens have on the power of government and if we defang them...well, if you think the Patriot Act is bad, as BTO would say, "You ain't seen nothin' yet."

            • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker.gmail@com> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:45PM (#15832939) Journal
              But they didn't make any laws. They simply stated that reporters are not above the law. Nothing new here, move along please.
        • So what I want to know is this: what part of "no law" did the legislatures not understand?

          I think you are mistaken in this case. It was not the legislative but the judiciary branch requiring them to cough up phone records. While the legislators are not to be excused, the violations of our constitution today occur far more often in a judiciary that is increasingly acting according to personal opinions rather than to the intent of the law.
        • No one can make a law that prevents people from publishing, but there is no right in the First Amendment -- no matter what the NYT's lawyers would like us to think -- that enables a reporter to not reveal sources if ordered to by a court. And if the reporter tips off those sources that they're about to be raided, the reporter may be guilty of a crime, and there's no First Amendment protection against that either. Reporters are not above the law, bottom line.

      • The press can suck, no doubt, but they're the best check on government we have in this country. Every law that hinders their ability to do their jobs, is a law that favors closed, tyrannical, government.

        You're assuming the press is doing their job. From what I've seen, the last time they did their job was circa 1980. I believe there is a quote along the lines of "I don't want NBC reporting on Disney. I don't want Disney reporting on Disney." from the CEO of Disney about a decade back. He didn't want N
    • This is the 21st century, BTW. They Google like everyone else.
  • by Ray Yang (135542) <RayAYang AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:52AM (#15832542)
    Who gets shielded and who doesn't? Is a New York Times reporter automatically better than a blogger? What about a press flack? The 1st Amendment is for *everybody*, not just reporters. The idea of creating supercitizens with special rights doesn't sit well with me. If your problem is with the way the government can invade our privacy, propose new rules for government behavior that don't trample on the ideal of equality before the law.
    • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <[Satanicpuppy] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:57AM (#15832588) Journal
      The only reason a NYT reporter gets more consideration than some random blogger, is because the NYT reporter has a team of specialist lawyers funded by a large news organization behind them.

      It's the same as any other setup where you've got a regular citizen compared to a regular citizen with financially unlimited legal backing. If you've got a problem with that, blame the legal system that is swayed by wealth.
      • The only reason a NYT reporter gets more consideration than some random blogger, is because the NYT reporter has a team of specialist lawyers funded by a large news organization behind them.

        Not true. I think the main reason that the NYT reporters get more consideration is that they are percieved as a reliable news source. The traditional news outlets have established credibility. Bloggers have yet to earn that.

        Many (most?) reporters for big news outlets have degrees in journalism/communications where

      • by Moofie (22272) <lee&ringofsaturn,com> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @01:41PM (#15833389) Homepage
        Freedom of the Press was not intended to have some chartered entity called "The Press" who was Free. The intent was to have every person (note: not every citizen, every PERSON) Free to do as they will, both in Speech and using the Press.
    • by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:59AM (#15832611)
      > Who gets shielded and who doesn't?

      Exactly. Be careful what you ask for. You just might get it.

      For starters, who's going to draft a Federal Shield Law? Politicians. And who's going to enforce it? Cops. And it's an election year.

      What goes into the sausage grinder as "Reporters should be shielded" comes out as "Congressmen's offices are shielded from search by police." (With a rider attached to the effect that because many federal agents (US Marshals, SS, FBI to name a few) carry badges shaped like shields, such officers shall be shielded from investigation by non-shieldbearers.

      (Yeah, I should really shut up and stop giving them ideas.)

    • > The 1st Amendment is for *everybody*, not just reporters.

      Preach it! Reporters are Citizens, same as thee and me. Any other setup requires some government agency licensing reporters and "Press" organizations and anyone who doesn't think that is a bigger perversion of the idea embodied in the 1st Amendment than McCain Fiengold ain't on the same planet I'm sitting on.

      No, reporters are Citizens, just like us 'little people in flyover country' and they are subject to the same laws as we are. If I tipped
      • Whether they should have their phone records seized is a no brainer and in a sane world they would be heaving a huge sigh of relief that was all that was happening to them.

        Really, dumbass? Ever stop to think that ALL the records includes other contacts for other stories, which may have nothing to do with this grand jury investigation?

        No of course not, because as long as your catching a terrorist, it doesn't matter what happens to people's rights.
    • Who gets shielded and who doesn't? Is a New York Times reporter automatically better than a blogger? What about a press flack? The 1st Amendment is for *everybody*, not just reporters.

      The First Amendment is silent on the issues a shield law would cover. All it guarantees is that the Goverment cannot prevent you from publishing something - though it has been interpreted more widely than that. (And myself, I prefer to rely on legislative law rather than case law.)

      The idea of creating sup

      • The First Amendment is silent on the issues a shield law would cover. All it guarantees is that the Goverment cannot prevent you from publishing something - though it has been interpreted more widely than that.

        Really? I saw 'freedom of the press shall not be abbridged.' It didn't say anything about it only covering your ability to print something. "The press" pretty clearly referes to journalists, and forcing phone records out of them seems to abridge their freedom to do their job effectively. After al
    • That is an important point.

      The Constitution guarentees the right to freedom of the press. That's a right The People have, not a right The Press has (except that they are also part of The People).
    • Bloggers get special PMITA treatment.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/02/us/02protest.htm l [nytimes.com]

      First paragraph:
      Blogger Jailed After Defying Court Orders

      By JESSE McKINLEY Published: August 2, 2006

      SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 1 -- A freelance journalist and blogger was jailed on Tuesday after refusing to turn over video he took at an anticapitalist protest here last summer and after refusing to testify before a grand jury looking into accusations that crimes were committed at the protest.
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:53AM (#15832548) Homepage Journal
    the number of porn titles has exploded since the 70's, so the sources will have plenty of names to pick from....Though I doubt journalists will be very pleased at having to write "my source 'Asian anal adventure volume 5' has informed me that..."
  • Source article (Score:5, Informative)

    by MrNougat (927651) <ckratschNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:54AM (#15832559)
    How about the source article instead of a blog about it?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/02/washington/02pho nes.html [nytimes.com]
    http://www.bugmenot.com/view/www.nytimes.com [bugmenot.com]
    • Re:Source article (Score:4, Informative)

      by Morinaga (857587) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @01:01PM (#15833079)
      Better yet, instead of an article linked to an opinion piece blog or an article linked to the actual press that's part of the news, how about we link to a third party? http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060801/ap_on_re_us/ny _times_phone_records [yahoo.com]

      The case involved stories written in 2001 by Times reporters Judith Miller and Philip Shenon that revealed the government's plans to freeze the assets of two Islamic charities, the Holy Land Foundation and the Global Relief Foundation.

      Prosecutors claimed the reporters' phone calls to the charities seeking comment had tipped the organizations off about the government investigation.

      U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald asked the Times for information about the source of the reports in 2002, then threatened to subpoena phone company billing records in 2004.

      The newspaper sued to block any such effort, saying prosecutors might use the records to fish for information about the Times' sources for a long list of stories.

      There is of course a line in the sand with the press in which the 1st amendment reaches the yelling fire in a theatre threshold. I think the question here is this equivalent to the NY Times tipping off the Germans prior to Normandy? Or is this something they should be able to do, in this case tipping off possible sources of terrorist funding right after 9-11 no less. The government is rightly seeking to find the sources of the original leaks to the reporters rather than looking to prosecute the reporters themselves. The reporters, in my view were irresposible but because freedom of the press is a sacred cow (rightfully so in most cases) they are pretty untouchable. However, the source of the leak should rightfully be given up when it comes to a matter of national security. Once that source is discovered they should be prosecuted.

  • Curiously... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Otter (3800) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:55AM (#15832569) Journal
    As always when reading this stuff, my first thought was that the media shouldn't have gotten so obsessed with damaging the Bush administration over the Plame "scandal" nonsense that they demanded that punishing leakers take priority over all else.

    Then upon reading the story -- it's the same reporter!?! At least it doesn't look like she's headed back to jail this time.

    • Re:Curiously... (Score:5, Informative)

      by timster (32400) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:23PM (#15832774)
      Oddly enough, while your post is sort of the conventional wisdom on the Plame leak controversy, you actually have it backwards.

      Judith Miller -- the journalist involved in both these issues -- wasn't involved in any sort of attempt to damage the Bush administration with the Plame scandal. In fact, Bush insiders intentionally leaked the story to Miller and others as part of the Iraq WMD propaganda. Judith Miller's stories had swallowed the administration's line on WMD so leaking to her was a natural choice (along with other conservative reporters like Bob Novak).

      Thus, the leak issue came up not because the media was obsessed with damaging the Bush administration, but because the government's prosecutor was determined to get to the bottom of the case (for whatever reason). Since it was pro-Bush journalists who had received the Plame leak, it was pro-Bush journalists who were being asked to reveal sources.

      The more recent instances of anti-leak sentiment are more traditional cases of the "liberal media" publishing information that the Bush administration wanted to keep secret. This is the exact opposite of the Plame scandal, where the information was leaked on purpose.
      • Oddly enough, while your post is sort of the conventional wisdom on the Plame leak controversy, you actually have it backwards....Thus, the leak issue came up not because the media was obsessed with damaging the Bush administration, but because the government's prosecutor was determined to get to the bottom of the case (for whatever reason).

        Your clarification about Judith Miller is correct; the above is simply absurd.

    • Re:Curiously... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by illumin8 (148082) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:58PM (#15833055) Journal
      As always when reading this stuff, my first thought was that the media shouldn't have gotten so obsessed with damaging the Bush administration over the Plame "scandal" nonsense that they demanded that punishing leakers take priority over all else.

      The irony in your statement is that there would be no reason to try and "damage the Bush administration" if they hadn't willfully and maliciously acted to damage Valerie Plame's career and personal safety, simply for being married to someone that spoke out about the lies on WMDs.

      You think that reporters should be punished for "damaging the reputation of government?" What kind of fascist, repressive country do you think we live in? What part of "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;" don't you understand?
  • Law to shield?? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Britz (170620)
    If the current administration will pass any laws on journalism it will most likely look more like the laws Mr. Bush's special pal Putin passes.
  • Judical activism (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gregTheBald (764458)
    Regardless whether it's time for a shield law, it certainly isn't time for a judge to decide that, since there isn't one, he should create one out of whole cloth by way of judicial fiat. Thank God only one out of three judges thought that professional reporters shouldn't have to gather information and facts in accordance with the same laws the rest of us have to abide by.
    • Re:Judical activism (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <[Satanicpuppy] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:25PM (#15832786) Journal
      Not sure what laws you think don't apply to journalists...There is no license you need to be a journalist. There is no law against starting your own news paper/channel/website. They are just regular people.

      The question you should be asking, is, why are regular people not accorded this protection? The answer has been (until recently) that you are unless those records are opened by a court subpoena, due to the fact that you are suspected of committing a crime.

      The problem in this case is that the reporters aren't committing a crime. You see the difference? The government is forcing records out of regular citizens to use in witchhunts against whistleblowers and suspected lawbreakers. There is no part of that that is in any way cool.

      Mind you, I think Judith Miller should be clubbed to death like a baby seal, but you can't stand up for freedoms only for people you like.
      • The problem in this case is that the reporters aren't committing a crime. You see the difference? The government is forcing records out of regular citizens to use in witchhunts against whistleblowers and suspected lawbreakers. There is no part of that that is in any way cool.

        Not entirely correct (though not entirely wrong, either). The records were needed so the grand jury could decide if there's sufficient evidence to warrant an indictment, after which the AG can move on to trial and determine if the repor
  • Holy crap, in the last 3 days on slashdot, I've read stories repoting with problems with your (U.S.) police force, youre election system, and now your 'free press'. I have to ask, what the fuck is going on in your country, and how much more will you have to see to do something about it??? Your apathy is not only going to cost you, but the rest of the globe as well.
    • by cliffski (65094) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:23PM (#15832776) Homepage
      Amen brother. Its especially depressing because the USA is always touted as 'the land of the free'. Its like emails that start with "this is not a scam" If you have to keep telling everyone how free you are, thats a warning sign right there.
      I like the USA in general, hell I even got married there, but right now, its not somewhere I'd like to live :(
      Whether your Republican or Democrat, you need to start fighting this slide towards an authoritarian state asap.
    • I hope and pray and work towards the end that the democrats take at least one house of congress this November -- hopefully the elections won't be stolen.

      A lot of slashdotters think that the two American political parties are all but identical, but I don't buy it. If Kerry were president, I doubt we would be in Iraq right now, (and if Gore were president, I doubt we would ever have gone in), and there wouldn't have been so much death in New Orleans.
    • MOD PARENT UP! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mrchaotica (681592) *

      You know what really pisses me off about these things? Half the Americans here are saying stuff like "oh well, it's only an isolated incident" (in the police case), or "oh well, it's not like it matters anyway" (in the election(!) case), or "oh well, in this case it's okay 'cause of 'national security' (think of the children)" (in this case). What they fail to do is put it all together, and see what it all adds up to.

      If only one of these things had happened, yeah, it wouldn't be too much to get concerned a

    • Hey, at least we let kids climb trees" [slashdot.org]...

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @01:37PM (#15833353)
      Please stop forming any opinions on what goes on here. Seriously, the news-ish bites on Slashdot are not a good way to get your information on the state of the US. To name just a few problems:

      1) Slashdot is highly sensationalistic when it comes to political stories. They tend to report things in a way that casts an extreme negative light on the situation, leaving out relivants mitigating facts and such.

      2) They tend to not check sources and facts very well. Heck they don't even tend to check if they've already posted something very well. You cannot rely on teh information as all that accurate.

      3) Slashdot has very anti-government, even perhaps anarchistic tendancies. They see most any effort to control things as a massive problem.

      Well a site like that, you don't really want to use for your news, just like you probably wouldn't want to rely on a more right-wing, pro government site as they are going to downplay anything bad the government does.

      Yes, bad things happen in the US. Always has been, probably always will be. Police abuse their power, the government has corruption problems, etc. However I don't care where you live, you do a little research, you'll find your country has the same kinds of problems. There's no magical perfect bastion of freedom. All countries have faults.

      However the US is not a dictatorship, we have not fallen in to a police state, etc. There are disturbing trends right now, things that many of us are working to fight against, but it's not like we are in the horrible way, which a revolution is the only way out of. If you believe that, well then you've been getting your news from the wrong sources.

      If you are truly interested in what's going on, you need to spend some time on it. You need to get information form multiple sources, you need to try and hear all sides of the story, you need to make sure you understand all the facts. Don't run off screaming the end of the world when Slashdot reports an incident of rights abuses.
  • What if you're a reporter for "High Times?"

  • Just wondering.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The Living Fractal (162153) <banantarr@@@hotmail...com> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:17PM (#15832728) Homepage
    One question I have: if communication between reporter and source is truly anonymous then how does any reporter know if the information is legitmate? At some point anonymity had better break down between reporter and source. Because when a reporter tells me something, which they say is news, I had better damn well know what their source is and know that it's legit, or they are going to be hard pressed to get me to believe a word of what they're saying.

    Another question is about the supposed 'only' methods of achieving the anonymity I above questioned.

    From the article: "Only a clearly written federal shield law will give reporters and their anonymous sources the confidence they need to communicate outside of darkened parking garages."

    Darkened parking garages? Please. How about just an office? Or a restaurant. Or, well, anywhere. If someone really wants to evesdrop on a reporter I can't imagine the reporter is going to be able to stop them by simply going to a parking garage. How about a public phone?

    I am really just waiting for someone to tell me why I should believe anything a reporter says when their source is completely unknown due to total anonymity.

    TLF

    • Re:Just wondering.. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:27PM (#15832797) Homepage Journal
      The thing is, the kind of informants this is supposed to protect are the kind that can't afford to be seen in public talking to a reporter. Like when the administration is doing something illegal and unethical, but they've classified it to prevent the public from knowing, the person who reports it can be executed for treason if the information leaks out, even if they were completely justified in what they did. The Valarie Plame affair should have reinforced that the current administration is not above petty repaisals either.
      • It is my understanding of the Plame Affair that the reporter revealed the identity of Plame as a CIA operative. I'm not sure how this relates to a reporter being allowed to keep their sources identities a secret when the very same reporter has decided to reveal their source's identity? Are you saying it would become illegal for a reporter to reveal the identity of a CIA agent? I am fairly sure that it already is. Which is to say, I don't know how this relates to the aforementioned shield law.

        It strikes
    • "Only a clearly written federal shield law will give reporters and their anonymous sources the confidence they need to communicate outside of darkened parking garages."

      Darkened parking garages? Please. How about just an office? Or a restaurant.
      "

      Yeah, because nobody would ever notice a reporter sitting down to dinner with a high ranking pentagon official. And nobody would take a second notice of a reporter coming in to CIA headquarters with an appointment scheduled with a senior manager. Nor would anyone
      • Yeah, because nobody would ever notice a reporter sitting down to dinner with a high ranking pentagon official. And nobody would take a second notice of a reporter coming in to CIA headquarters with an appointment scheduled with a senior manager. Nor would anyone notice the CIA manager walking into the Washington Posts' office and to meet with a reporter.

        Tell me, is it right that said high ranking officials et al should need to worry about their identities being secret if what they are saying is truly somet
        • "Tell me, is it right that said high ranking officials et al should need to worry about their identities being secret if what they are saying is truly something that the citizens need to know, and we as a country need to be aware of?"

          No, it isn't right, and that's exactly the danger. If there is something evil and corrupt going on, and you bring it to light, are you so naive to believe that the evil and corrupt people will not do everything in their power to cover up their deeds, assassinate your character
    • "I am really just waiting for someone to tell me why I should believe anything a reporter says when their source is completely unknown due to total anonymity."

      You don't understand how anonymous sources work. The reporter knows the identity of the individual. It's anonymous because the individual doesn't want his/her name in print. For example Woodward and Bernstein knew who Deep Throat actually was - He wasn't just some random crank. Reporters anonymous sources are not unknown to the reporer.

      BSD
      • As I understand it, the only reason Felt wanted to remain anonymous was to for privacy.

        And the constitution already covers that right adequately. Any law trying to destroy that right violates the constitution IMHO.

        So, IMHO, a shield law is -1 redundant.

        TLF
  • by WCMI92 (592436) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:24PM (#15832779) Homepage
    Just because you are a reporter you aren't above the law. If I or anyone else would have to reveal something under subpoena or on a witness stand if it were part of a criminal case (and leaking classified documents is a crime), then so should the high and mighty New York Times.

    I am sick and tired of the Times and other blatantly anti war publications like them putting our soldiers and our security at risk.

    If you work at an agency and you think there is something illegal going on the proper procedure is to call the US Attorney's office, not the New York Times. The person who does the former is a whistleblower. The person who does the latter is a criminal.
    • Wow, a moderator with a political agenda. Typical.
    • mod parent up! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sockman (133264)
      News paper publishers and reporters in general, like cops, feel they are "special" and no laws apply to them, only to average Joe. Plus I'm tired of all the hate in politics and journalism.
    • by plague3106 (71849) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @01:03PM (#15833099)
      If I or anyone else would have to reveal something under subpoena or on a witness stand if it were part of a criminal case (and leaking classified documents is a crime), then so should the high and mighty New York Times.

      If the information they want was part of a investigative story you did, you'd have the same protections.

      I am sick and tired of the Times and other blatantly anti war publications like them putting our soldiers and our security at risk.

      Oh right. Its the journalists fault. Not the people that SENT the troops there to begin with, not the people shooting at the troops. Its the journalists.

      If you work at an agency and you think there is something illegal going on the proper procedure is to call the US Attorney's office, not the New York Times.

      There's a problem if the US attorney's office won't do anything about it though, especially if its corrupt government you're talking about. The correct answer IS going to the press. That's the only way to be sure the journalist isn't silenced in some way. I fail to see how telling anyone of an illegal activity is themselves a criminal. Maybe the people being called out SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN ACTING ILLEGALLY TO BEGIN WITH.

      Your logic defies belief. Its not the people breaking the law that's the problem.. is the people telling us about it??
    • I am sick and tired of the Times and other blatantly anti war publications like them putting our soldiers and our security at risk.

      The phrase "blatantly anti war" makes it sound like there's something wrong with being anti-war, which pretty much says what side you're on, but anyway --

      1. One of the reporters under investigation, Judith Miller, was not only a Times employee, but also one of the major cheerleaders during the build-up to the Iraq war. I know this doesn't fit into your little Fox bubble-world,
  • by CHK6 (583097)
    If the news reports information that was ordered not to be released and doesn't come forward with the source then this is obstruction of justice. Just as if your average citizen refused to tell a judge about critical information regarding a case. What's next is reporters acting as spies and thinking freedom of the press is some shield and a right in ALL circumstances. That is not common sense.

    Also why not go after the entire news agency? In the end they are the street dealer/pusher. Information is just a
  • by Bob Uhl (30977)
    Why should reporters be free not to testify when the rest of us can be compelled to do so? Why should they be able to refuse to testify to illegal activities?
    • >> Why should reporters be free not to testify when the rest of us can be compelled to do so? Why should they be able to refuse to testify to illegal activities?

      Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom...of the press... [cornell.edu]

      If journalists must surrender everything they do to the government, then they are not free to talk to those unwilling to talk to the government.

      We have some protections, too. The rest of us cannot be compelled to testify either, if doing so would implicate ourselves. We don'
  • Misleading story (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kohath (38547) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @12:36PM (#15832863)
    This story is very misleading.

    The FBI was going to raid some places they thought were linked to terrorist financing. The reporters found out. The reporters called the organizations for comment, in advance of the raids.

    Hi, this is Judith Miller of the New York Times. Your organization is going to be raided by the Feds tomorrow to look for evidence in connection with a terrorist financing investigation. Do you have any comment on that?

    I think the judges' ruling is correct. Reporters can't be allowed the privilege of anonymous sources when they take these sorts of actions.
    • "Reporters can't be allowed the privilege of anonymous sources when they take these sorts of actions."

      Fortunately it's not a priveledge but a constitutional right. I missed the "anonymous source" exmeption in the constitution.
      • by Kohath (38547)
        I missed anything about anonymous sources in the constitution. I also missed the "reporters are super-citizens above the laws" part.

        Freedom of the press is a right that The People have. It's not a special Get Out of Jail Free Card for the NY Times.
        • "I also missed the "reporters are super-citizens above the laws" part." That's not what the Constitution actually says

          Here allow me to quote the relevant section -

          "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

          Using other laws to get around the prohibition on freedom of speech or pres
          • Re:Misleading story (Score:3, Interesting)

            by corbettw (214229)
            Then it must be legal to shout fire in a crowded theater, or to post an article in the local newspaper saying that Thanatopsis rapes kittens for fun when he's not cheating on his taxes.

            No? None of those things are legal? But I thought freedom of speech and the press were absolute rights?
          • by MoneyT (548795)
            And what freedom of the press has been violated here? The right to comit a crime? If you hear about the FBI planning on raiding Scam Co. offices tomorrow and you tip them off and allow them to destroy evidence you have comitted a crime. As a normal citizen you can be compelled to give up your phone records. What freedom of the press allows them to be above a normal citizen?
        • SO the NY Times doesn't have that right? Or is it an abstract right that the people have but cannot actually practice. I mean I think you would be hard pressed to prove that the NY Times is part of the press. Yet that is what you are implying, namely the right is held by the People but not the NY Times. To me that argument just doesn't hold water.
      • by Ritchie70 (860516) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @01:00PM (#15833072) Journal
        Are you kidding me?

        The reporters could probably (and arguably should) be charged with interference with an ongoing investigation. The right to a free press is (in my understanding) a right to write, for public consumption. It is not a right to take any random action in order to obtain facts for said writing.

        If I have been assigned to write a story about the psychological condition of an executioner, am I justified in grabbing someone and "executing" them in the furtherance of my story? Of course not; it's both illegal and wrong.

        It would, in my opinion, be one thing if they had been tipped off by this anonymous source, sat on it until the raids had actually happened, then used the information in their stories. Instead, they took the information they got, and contacted the targets of the raids in advance. Absurd.

        Reporters are not magic special people. They should abide by the same laws and rules of reasonable conduct as the rest of us.

      • by dinivin (444905)
        She has the constitutional right to publish her article and take the actions she did. That doesn't mean she has the constitutional right to be free of any and all consequences of her behaviour.
  • by Azeron (797264)
    Freedom of the Press is not the right to withold vital information from a criminal/civil case. It is the right to talk about what is going on by publishing information. Reporters have no more right to withold information than me or you -- They are not "Super Citizens" or a superior class with "Special Rights". I personal think its a pretty sh*tty thing that someone can use a reporter to slander or defame someone (and that is what is going on in the vast majority of cases of "undisclosed sources") and us
  • by Gryffin (86893) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @01:12PM (#15833167) Homepage
    It's long past time for a federal shield law.

    From this federal government? Sounds like you've been patronizing those drug dealers mentioned.

    Welcome to the new reality: the government gets full access to your business, but you get no access into their business.

    Between this, easily-hackable voting machines, and yet more police abuses, it's been a really bad week for the Constitution.

  • Hypocrisy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by amliebsch (724858) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @03:18PM (#15834260) Journal
    It's amazing to me that when Apple was going after a reporter, requesting that the court compel him to reveal his sources for use in a civil case, most posters supported Apple. Now, when the prosecutor requests the court compel a reporter to reveal his sources for use in a criminal case, it's a constitutional violation.

The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell. -- Confucius

Working...