RTDNA call to action by September 12

September 5, 2013 06:00

Senate Judiciary Committee to Vote on Shield Bill September 12 - ACTION NEEDED!
Now is the time to contact your senators on the Judiciary Committee and urge them to vote YES on S. 987, also known as the Free Flow of Information Act. You can call the Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask to speak with your senator on the committee. If he or she is not available, please ask to speak with the senator’s chief of staff or press secretary. You may refer to the letter that 71 media coalition members sent in July to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Key talking points:
  • The Department of Justice put confidential sources at risk by secretly obtaining the communications records of reporters from The Associated Press and Fox News. This overreach by the DOJ has had a chilling effect on communications between reporters and sources.
  • While the DOJ’s proposed revised guidelines are a step in the right direction, they are not binding and the attorney general could ignore the guidelines.
  • The Free Flow of Information Act (S. 987) would establish clear and reasonable rules for when the government and others can seek information from journalists and their service providers that could compromise confidential sources.
  • The legislation calls for an independent federal judge to review all information requests to journalists and their service providers to prevent government overreach and to protect the public’s right to know.
  • The bill is not a free pass for the press. It is not an absolute privilege but a qualified privilege. There are a number of exceptions to the privilege including a national security exception that allows the government to obtain information to prevent an act of terrorism or other harm to national security.
  • I urge you to vote YES on the legislation and to oppose any weakening amendments so that a strong bill is favorably reported out of the committee.