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Senate Judiciary Committee passes the Free Flow of Information Act of 2013

September 12th, 2013 by Alicia Calzada and tagged , , , ,

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photo by Mickey Osterreicher/ NPPA

 

A federal shield law edged closer to a reality today as a bill which would enact a federal reporter’s privilege, The Free Flow of Information Act of 2013, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee today to move forward to the Senate floor.

A critical part of today’s hearing was an amendment, offered by Senators Diane Feinstein and Richard Durbin, which helped expand the definition of who would be covered under the law. A coalition of media groups, of which NPPA is a member, assisted with the wording.

Under the bill, a person becomes a “covered journalist” by having certain elements of journalistic intent when obtaining the relevant information and by meeting the following criteria:

– Employment: If on the relevant date the person was working (either as a staffer or independent contractor) for an entity or service that disseminates news or information. A covered entity includes, among other things, a newspaper, wire service, news agency, news website, news program, magazine, print or electronic periodical, television or radio broadcast, or motion picture.

– Experience: If the person has worked for one of the entities described above for three consecutive months in the past five years, or for an entire year during the past twenty years.

– Safety net: If for some reason, a person believes that they should be covered but they don’t fall into any of the prior categories, a judge can decide that the person is entitled to the qualified privilege in the interest of justice. This gives the judge discretion to strike a balance between the need for a limited application of the privilege and the ever changing definition of journalist.

NPPA Attorney Mickey Osterreicher attended the hearing and was pleased with the outcome. “Trying to define who is a journalist is a vexing problem. If everyone is entitled to the privilege then upon further scrutiny no one will be entitled to it. On the other hand, if  given the state of journalism these days, the media coalition felt that the previous amendment was not inclusive enough and we could not support it.. We all now fully support the bill as amended and we encourage the full senate, as well as the house, to enact it.”

Photographers are expressly included in the definition of “covered journalist.” NPPA has been instrumental in ensuring that the bill covers visual journalists and NPPAs attorneys are satisfied that it does so.

The amendment can be found at this link:

http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/legislation/mediashield/Feinstein/ALB13767.pdf

 

After Passage Left to right:  Paul Boyle, NAA - Sophia Cope, NAA -Kurt Wimmer and Curtis LeGeyt, NAB,  Jeff Kosseff, Covington & Burling, Stephanie Martz, Senator Schumer's office Photo by Mickey Osterreicher.

After Passage Left to right: Paul Boyle, NAA – Sophia Cope, NAA, Kurt Wimmer and Curtis LeGeyt, NAB, Jeff Kosseff, Covington & Burling, Stephanie Martz, Senator Schumer’s office
Photo by Mickey Osterreicher.

 

 

Posted in First Amendment, Free Flow of Information Act, Legal, photojournalism, shield law | No Comments »

Arrest in leak of the video of the killing of photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen

June 11th, 2010 by Alicia Calzada and tagged , , , , , ,

Several months ago, Wikileaks released a horrifying video of the 2007 killing by the U.S. Military, of Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and his and driver, Saeed Chmagh, 40.

Earlier this month, the federal government  arrested an army intelligence analyst, 22-year-old Bradley Manning, who is suspected of leaking the video. Adding to the drama are reports that Manning also leaked hundreds of thousands of other classified documents, and cables to Wikileaks, and now the Pentagon is searching for the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, fearing that the organization is preparing to release the information. Interestingly, Assange is scheduled to speak on a panel discussion at the Invetigative Reporters and Editors conference this afternoon, the epicenter of journalism that relies on confidential sourcing.

An article in today’s New York Times outlines how the government is taking a hard stand against leaks.

In the midst of a national crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, and corporate misinformation campaigns by BP which are being supported by the federal government’s cooperation in blocking access, all of this is important to photojournalists.

(UPDATE: Assange has canceled his appearance at the IRE conference, according to The Daily Beast)

Posted in Access, Legal, shield law, Uncategorized | No Comments »