The Norman Transcript

Opinion

July 30, 2013

The war on journalism

NORMAN — A ruling from a Virginia-based federal appeals court last week raises the stakes exponentially in the post-9/11 struggle over press freedoms — an increasingly heated jousting match between the Obama White House and the media that could, in the view of one dissenting judge, determine the fate of “the free flow of information in our society.”

In ruling 2-1 that a New York Times reporter and author must testify in the criminal trial of a former CIA official charged with leaking secrets, the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals swept aside years of legal thinking sympathetic to reporters’ right to protect their confidential sources.

The ability to shield such sources is often critical to exposing all manner of abuses.

The Newspaper Association of America said in a statement that the ruling “sets a terrible legal precedent.” A joint brief filed on behalf of more than two dozen media outlets contends that if the ruling stands, journalists’ “ability to report on matters of substantial public concern will be significantly impaired.”

Following the recent disclosure of the U.S. Justice Department’s unprecedented search of Associated Press reporters’ phone records as part of a probe into leaks of government information, the court ruling makes the case even stronger for enacting a federal shield law. President Obama has recently ordered welcome steps to ease the chill on information-gathering.

But such policies can be altered or even scrapped at the discretion of authorities. Only a shield law would give the public adequate assurance that the media are free to provide the government oversight the founders envisioned.

Action could be coming on shield legislation proposed by Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who make sensible exceptions for disclosures that could prevent a terrorist attack or other threat to national security.

— Philadelphia Inquirer

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Dancing forward

    The official motto for Mike Fowler’s chairmanship of the Norman Chamber of Commerce is “Moving Norman Forward.” But after Thursday night’s annual banquet, the sub-theme should be, “Let’s Dance, Norman.” More than 500 chamber members and ...

    April 19, 2014

  • NRA members need to step up

    Please, Mr. Bloomberg, leave the checkbook open, but step away from the podium. Your efforts to curb gun violence and improve safety are notable. The National Rifle Association thanks you....

    April 19, 2014

  • Local control or not?

    Oklahoma lawmakers are a fickle bunch when it comes to issues of local control. Sometimes they want it and other times they do not....

    April 19, 2014

  • Norman should act wisely

    Editor, The Transcript: The fact that the city of Norman sells water for oil/gas drilling (or any other purpose) for less than half what they pay Oklahoma City when buying water, and while Norman residents are on rationing, is an act of ...

    April 18, 2014

  • There’s no need to fix system that’s working

    Lawmaker attempts to alter the way judges are selected are being challenged by the state’s lawyers. More than 1,800 signatures on a state bar association petition urging a “no” vote on Senate Joint Resolution 21 have been gathered in just ...

    April 18, 2014

  • On the side of openness

    Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has been criticized for failing to release emails and other information sought by press outlets who believe it was covered under the state’s Open Records Act. Now, Fallin is coming down on the side of keeping the ...

    April 18, 2014

  • A raise for troopers, but what about others?

    Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers could see an increase in their paychecks during the state’s next fiscal year, which begins in July....

    April 17, 2014

  • Fallin should help residents

    Editor, The Transcript: I see this week that our empty skirt of a governor asked the federal government (small business administration) for much money. She is concerned about the suffering of the business owners in Lexington and Purcell ...

    April 17, 2014

  • Top honors for NPS

    Top honors keep rolling in for both of Norman’s high schools. The district learned this past week that Norman High School and Norman North High School have been recognized as two of the most rigorous high schools in the country and in the ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Wind power bursting

    There are a few wind generators dotting the Norman skyline, but western and northwestern Oklahoma makes up for the deficit here. An industry group this week said Oklahoma ranks fourth nationally in the amount of wind-generated ...

    April 16, 2014