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May 9th, 2007 Nicholas Deshais | News Stories
 

Shields up

How will the Northwest’s federal lawmakers vote on protecting reporters’ notes?

     
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In Oregon and Washington, reporters have robust legal protections for their sources’ confidentiality along with the privacy of their notes and conversations, published or otherwise.
In Idaho, reporters got nothin’.
While Oregon is in the majority with 32 other states that give protective shields to reporters from judicial subpoenas, many in Congress want the protection to be a federal one covering all 50 states. So last week, in what’s becoming an annual rite, U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) introduced the Free Flow of Information Act of 2007, which would offer some protections to journalists and their sources.
Among the six House co-sponsors of HR 2102 is Oregon’s own Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River), who says “coercing reporters to divulge their sources through the courts has a chilling effect on whistle-blowing and investigative reporting.... We in Congress must do everything in our power to protect the freedoms of journalistic institutions.”
Agreed. But given that similar bills were introduced in 2005 and 2006 but never made it to a floor vote, we wondered how the congressional delegation from Oregon and southwest Washington would vote.
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