Speak up now for shield law

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In light of the recent U.S. Department of Justice move to subpoena phone records of journalists, the time is right to call once again for passage of the Free Flow of Information Act.

A reporter shield law should not be a partisan issue for Indiana’s delegation to Capitol Hill.

Call your U.S. representative and senators and ask each of them to co-sponsor the Free Flow of Information Act. Publishers can use the U.S. Capitol switchboard, (202) 224-3121.

Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican and the original author of the legislation, and Democratic President Barack Obama have called for its passage.

The Hoosier State Press Associ­ation urges member newspapers to contact their U.S. representative and senators by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard – (202) 224-3121 – and asking him or her to co-sponsor the Free Flow of Information Act, H.R. 1962 (for representatives) or S. 987 (for senators).

Publishers should ask to speak to the chief of staff or the press secretary to communicate this request. While a phone conversation with key staff is the best approach, members could also send a letter.

If you haven’t already done so, consider taking an editorial stance on the issue.

The Society of Professional Journalists provides talking points and a sample letter at http://www.spj.org/shieldlaw-sampleletter.asp.

U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-IN 3rd, has signed on as a co-sponsor for H.R. 1962.

“Our great experiment in self-government hinges on freedom of speech and a free and independent press,” Stutzman said. “This administration’s recent actions have reminded Americans of our ceaseless duty to safeguard this precious liberty, which is why today I am proud to co-sponsor media shield legislation to make sure that journalists are protected from being forced to reveal their confidential news sources in federal proceedings.

“Most importantly, this legislation will help ensure that the American people’s right to know is free from government incursion,” he said. “Congress should pass and President Obama should sign the Free Flow of Information Act without delay.”

HSPA hasn’t seen any news releases from the rest of the Indiana delegation on this issue, but Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., may not be supportive based on a Washington Post op-ed he co-authored, “National security leaks must be plugged.”

In the column, Coats wrote, “The problem stems in part from the media’s insatiable desire for real-world information that makes intelligence operations look like those of filmmakers’ imaginations. That is understandable, but this hunger is fed by inexcusable contributions from current and former U.S. officials.”

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