RAISE THAT SHIELD

Solution

City Island Images expects the federal shield bill, also known as the Free Flow of Information Act (S. 987), to be brought to the Senate floor very soon. But before it can be brought to the floor, we need to be sure that the bipartisan bill has more than 60 votes in order to overcome any potential filibuster. Therefore, we're asking our thousands of visitors to contact their senators and ask if they support S. 987, as well as to encourage them to vote YES on S. 987.

Contact your senators by phone: Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121 and ask to be connected to the offices of the senators from your state. Or, look up your senators' contact information online. If the senator is unavailable, ask to speak with his or her chief of staff.

Ask whether your senator supports the bill: Find out if the senator supports the bill by asking these questions in this online form and we will use this information to track individual senators' level of support.

Don't know what else to say?: Check out these key talking points.

— Federal protection. Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia provide journalists with a “reporter’s privilege,” protecting them if a state government seeks to make him or her reveal confidential information, including the identity of a source. There is absolutely no protection at the federal level.

It’s time to raise the shield!

Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia provide journalists with a “reporter’s privilege,” protecting them if a state government seeks to make him or her reveal confidential information, including the identity of a source. Some states have statutes, known as “shield laws,” and some provide the protection through case law.

There is absolutely no protection at the federal level. It’s time to pass a federal shield law. Learn more and pitch in right here.

The Bills
H.R.1962 — Free Flow of Information Act of 2013

S.987 — A bill to maintain the free flow of information to the public by providing conditions for the federally compelled disclosure of information by certain persons connected with the news media

Amended language for S.987 [Sept. 12, 2013]

Resources
— Arguments in favor of the shield law
— Shield law FAQ
— History: The struggle since 2006
— Quotable experts
— Journalism groups backing a federal shield
— RCFP guide to state shield laws [RCFP.org]

How you can help
— Sample email messages and letters
— Contact info for U.S. Senators

In the news
— ‘Covered Journalists’: Federal shield law language a good compromise
— Freedom of the Prez: On shame and shield law
— 62 Civil Liberties, Press Freedom and Public Interest Groups Demand Answers on Targeting of Journalists
— Protect reporters, and protect everyone
— Counterpoint: Media deserve guarantee of federal shield law

FOI FYI Blog: Shield law posts
– FOI Update: Federal appeals court rules against reporter’s privilege in James Risen case
– Shield law counterpoint: ‘I opposed the federal shield then, and I oppose it now’
– FOI Daily Dose: More sunshine in Florida, NY shield law saves reporter from testifying
– FOI Daily Dose: Fox News reporter uses NY shield law to fend off subpoena; Dems and GOP criticize Snowden, NSA director speaks about leaks
– FOI Daily Dose: NY shield law blocks casino tycoon’s subpoena against Wall Street Journal

— The shield law is for the public, and for democracy. While shield laws protect journalists, the key purpose is to protect sources’ identities and their ability to get important information to the public via journalists. Without this protection, insiders are less likely to go to the press with information that needs to be told about corruption and abuse of power

— Hundreds of journalists are targeted every year. Brigham Young University law professor RonNell Andersen Jones, in a 2009 study, noted that federal agencies issue about 800 subpoenas to news organizations annually, with half of those targeting confidential sources. Journalists have noted that the number of federal subpoenas continues to grow.

— Alternatives for journalists have severe ramifications. Some journalists served with federal subpoenas have spent significant time in jail for refusing to turn over confidential information. Josh Wolf spent 226 days in jail to protect his raw video from confiscation. A federal judge attempted to personally bankrupt Toni Locy, formerly of USA Today.

— The bill puts the onus on the federal government. Under the proposed federal shield law, if a subpoena or court order seeking protected information has been issued to a news organization, the federal government must give the journalist notice and a chance to be heard. A judge holds a hearing, and the government must prove that its need for the information sought.

— An outside referee would decide whether the law applies. If there is disagreement about whether the shield law applies, a judge can decide the issue.

— The bill has a broad definition of “journalist”. Previous efforts to pass a federal shield law have foundered on efforts to define “journalist.” The compromise bill that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in September is an attempt to address concerns about the definition and is sufficiently broad. The proposed law uses the term “covered journalist,” which includes reporters at newspapers and television stations, college journalists, freelancers, bloggers (particularly those with traditional legacy media experience in the past 20 years), anyone working for a “news website” and anyone else gathering and disseminating information for the public good.

— The bill includes safeguards for national security. The federal shield law bill specifically excludes terrorists and does not apply to groups such as Wikileaks.

Spread the word: Here is a great list of social media posts you can use to encourage others to contact their senators.

The federal shield law bill, Free Flow of Information Act of 2013, S. 987, passed thru U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Learn more: http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

The federal shield law bill, Free Flow of Information Act of 2013, S. 987, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

The Free Flow of Information Act would preserve the public’s right to know by protecting journalists’ confidential sources. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

The federal shield law would preserve the public's right to know by protecting journalists' confidential sources. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

Federal shield law language defines “covered journalist” in broad terms. http://tinyurl.com/m3es8a3

4 out of 5 media law experts say “Yes” to a federal shield law http://tinyurl.com/kxu3gxj #spjshield

Journalists rely on confidential sources for investigative reporting. Help protect that right; support a federal shield law. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

Journalists rely on confidential sources for investigative reporting. Protect that right; back a federal shield law. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

The public relies on confidential sources to shed light on government wrongdoing. Help protect that right; support a federal shield law. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

Confidential sources help shed light on government wrongdoing. Protect that right; support a federal shield law. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

A federal shield law would ensure democracy & the public’s right to know. Help SPJ get it passed. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp #spjshield

A federal shield law would ensure democracy and the public’s right to know. Help SPJ get it passed. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp #spjshield

Hundreds of journalists are targeted every year with federal subpoenas, keeping the public in the dark. A federal shield law would provide accountability, preserving your right to know. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

100s of journalists targeted every year with federal subpoenas. A federal shield law would provide accountability. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

Show your support for a federal shield law by contacting your U.S. senators and representatives today! http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

A federal shield law protects journalists and their confidential sources and YOUR right to know what your government is up to. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

A federal shield law protects journalists and confidential sources and YOUR right to know what government is up to. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

Protection of the public’s right to know is a nonpartisan issue. Encourage your legislators to vote “yes” to a federal shield law. #spjshield http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

Protection of the public's right to know is a nonpartisan issue. Ask senators to vote "yes" to a federal shield law. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

The administration says it supports government transparency. Make them show it with a federal shield law. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

The Free Flow of Information Act has had strong bipartisan support in the past. Encourage it to continue — contact your legislators today.

The federal shield bill proposes reasonable ground rules for when a journalist can be compelled to testify re confidential sources. #spjshield

The federal shield bill proposes reasonable rules for when a journalist can be compelled to testify re confidential sources. #spjshield

49 states and the District of Columbia provide protection for a journalist’s confidential sources. Our federal government does not. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp #spjshield

49 states and DC provide protection for a journalist's confidential sources, but the feds do not. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp #spjshield

Learn how a federal shield law bill will support democracy and government transparency and protect the public’s right to know. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp #spjshield

Learn how a federal shield law bill will support democracy and transparency and protect the public's right to know. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

A federal shield law would not give a free pass to the press or its sources, but establish a qualified (not absolute) privilege. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

A federal shield law would not give a free pass to the press or its sources, but establish a qualified privilege. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

There is no uniformity to conflicting federal court opinions on when confidential sources can be protected. Let’s change that. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

Federal court opinions on when confidential sources can be protected are in conflict. Let's change that. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

Without a federal shield law, government whistleblowers are reluctant to come forward. Protect YOUR right to know. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

Support SPJ’s fight for a federal shield law to protect confidential sources. Contact your legislators today to show your support. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

Support SPJ's fight for a federal shield law to protect confidential sources. Contact your senators today. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

Protecting the public’s right to know is everyone’s responsibility. Support a federal shield law. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

Learn more about the proposed federal shield — Free Flow of Information Act — to protect journalists’ confidential sources. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

Learn more about the proposed federal shield law, which will protect journalists' confidential sources. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

A federal shield law would require a judicial hearing before confidential source info. could be subpoenaed from a journalist. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

A federal shield law would require a judicial hearing before a journalist could be subpoenaed re sources. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

Fight for the public’s right to know. Contact your legislators to support a federal shield law today. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

National security will not be harmed by a federal shield law. #spjshield. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

Journalist Josh Wolf spent 226 days in jail to protect his raw video footage from confiscation. Stop the injustice; pass a federal shield law. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

Journalist Josh Wolf spent 226 days in jail to protect his raw video footage from confiscation. Stop the injustice. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

Federal judges have attempted to personally bankrupt journalists who refuse to reveal sources, including Toni Locy, formerly of USA Today. http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=4823142&page=1

Federal judges have attempted to personally bankrupt journalists who refuse to reveal sources, including Toni Locy. http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=4823142

Patch reporter Joe Hosey could be fined up to $3,000 a day for not revealing his sources. http://tinyurl.com/la85c2u

Do you want to know who the federal government is spying on? Help pass a federal shield law to preserve your right to know. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

Want to know who the federal government is spying on? Help pass a federal shield law to preserve your right to know. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

With a federal shield law, the onus is on the govt to prove why it needs protected information from a news org. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp #spjshield

With a federal shield law, the onus is on the govt to prove why it needs protected information from a news org. http://spj.org/shieldlaw.asp

Please help us in our efforts to pass a federal shield law. After all is said and done, it protects our right to exercise journalism in a free democracy.

Meanwhile, CPJ has released of Attacks on the Press, a comprehensive annual survey of news media conditions worldwide. This year's edition, now available online, examines wide-reaching effects of government surveillance, the tug of war between media and money, the danger to witnesses of journalist murders, and the determination of journalists in Syria, among many other topics. Our contributors hail from Istanbul to Bogotá, Hong Kong to New York, Brussels to Mexico City.

http://www.cpj.org/