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
  • State is No. 2 in barbecue

    Americans love the marriage of smoke, fire and meat, but geography plays a part in how strong the passion is. Estately Blog has created a map charting which states are home to the most barbecue enthusiasts. Oklahoma comes in at No. 2 in ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Community Action mostly closed due to cutbacks

    Editor, The Transcript: The Community Action, at 1155 E Main St. in Norman, for decades has served Cleveland County with the following everyday services: a food pantry, short-term housing for the homeless, providing rides for those without ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Keep guns off campus

    Some Oklahoma lawmakers just won’t let the issue of allowing handguns on campus to go away. A joint legislative study will take a look at campuses around the nation to see if there is a way to accommodate faculty, staff and students who ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Improving children’s lives

    Social service organizations that have long-term debt for their headquarters and operating needs often spend much of their fundraising efforts meeting those obligations....

    July 29, 2014

  • Nutritional article should be accurate

    I read with interest the July 13 article “Are low-carb diets really healthy?” by Cassidie Day. Unfortunately, a number of statements in this article were incorrect. The first problematic statement was, “Carbs are an essential nutrient ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Hospital story headline was too sensationalized

    Editor, The Transcript: On July 18, The Transcript ran a front page article with the headline “Lawsuit filed against Norman Regional — Civil suit alleges improper billing practices by NRH and contracted physicians groups.” As a first page ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Congress should close gaps

    Of all of Edward Snowden’s revelations about electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, the most unsettling was that the government was accumulating vast numbers of records about the telephone calls of American citizens. In ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Border obsession overlooks trade

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry made headlines recently by ordering 1,000 National Guard troops to the border. This bravado comes at a price: $12 million a month. Perry plans to send the bill the federal government. That’s one way to finance your ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Intercession badly needed in this world

    Yesterday was my feast day, or as the Italians call it, my “onomastico.” Since I live in the United States, it went completely unnoticed. If I lived in Italy, however, I would have been showered with cards and phone calls. That’s because ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Help better than commentary

    For the last seven years, I have helped run Hands Helping Paws, an animal welfare and rescue group that fosters Norman’s abandoned animals and advocates for spay and neuter initiatives to reduce our community’s problems with stray and ...

    July 27, 2014