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View Diary: Media ignore threat to hold Fox News reporter in contempt for protecting source in Aurora shooting (131 comments)

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  •  What's a Journalist? (10+ / 0-)

    I agree that Winter should be able to protect an anonymous source. But the real problem is what defines a "journalist" who should be shielded? Where's the line?

    Fox isn't really a journalism organization, but it's close enough. The NY Times is a shabby corporatist propaganda rag, too, but it's among the closest to what we consider legitimate journalism. But what about bloggers? Is Meteor Blades a shieldable journalist?

    If MB posted a story in DailyKos reporting that a Colorado uranium mill was polluting the countryside, quoting an anonymous worker there with firsthand experience of dumping, would a court prosecuting the operator be entitled to compell MB to reveal the worker's identity for a subpoena? What if MB were posting in his own blog? What if James O'Keefe or any other hack we hate did? What if Tucker Carlson reported that story (suppose because Obama owns the mill) in the NYT?

    Given the right to free speech includes the right not to speak, and the right not to self incriminate, how can a court put any of us in jail to compel us to reveal who told us what, or anything we wish to remain silent on?

    Maybe we should shield any speech from compelled revealing of its sources, if the speaker can defend it as truth. If it's true, why should anyone have to reveal who told them?

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 01:00:58 PM PDT

    •  There has been a lot of discussion about (4+ / 0-)

      "what exactly is a journalist today", because of bloggers and other "citizen journalists" in the past few years.

      I don't think we have a good legally recognized definition at this time for anyone outside the mainstream media organizations.

      "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

      by Angie in WA State on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 01:40:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If the story depended on an anonymous source (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Then that's because there was no other way to show it was true.

      Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

      by Dogs are fuzzy on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 01:44:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But with so much misinformation out there (0+ / 0-)

        I want to be able to verify my stories.

        I hate to use this site as an example (not really) but our recommended list is a continual example of reacting to stories that can't be verified and we eventually find that the real story tended to very greatly from what was originally diaried.

      •  That's Not Showing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Since an anonymous source is indistinguishable from "the author made it up", quoting an anonymous source doesn't show anything is true. It's a shortcut, and daily journalism is mostly shortcuts.

        But like anonymous tips to the police that provide valuable leads for investigations (when it's not the police making it up or from illegally obtained evidence), an anonymous source in a story can provide the lead to objective evidence. Or to named sources. Or even to a purely logical analysis with no new evidence, once the useful point of view is discovered with anonymous help.

        So a real journalist could look beyond the anonymous source once tipped. If subpoenaed, they could prove by other means that what the anonymous source said was true, without revealing the source.

        However, if they can't prove it without the anonymous source, their credibility should suffer. If they've got a strong reputation for fact, and little to gain compared to losing it by lying about the anonymous source, that could convince. In reporting that is the main basis for access to an audience. In a court, those distinctions have physical consequences. If a prosecutor (or defender) could prove the quote was false, that could compel a journalist to reveal their source. And indeed there should be more than just a loss of credibility at stake, because modern journalism products show that is no inhibition at all in most cases that define our public knowledge.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 08:30:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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