- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Texarkana Gazette, June 3, 2014

Supreme Court rightly comes down on side of a free press

New York has a strong “Shield Law” which protects journalists from being forced to reveal their confidential sources.

Many states have shield laws of some sort, but most aren’t as strong. Case in point: Colorado.

Back in July 2012, James Holmes walked into a movie theatre during a midnight showing of “Batman, The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Col. He carried a small arsenal and opened fire, killing 12 and injuring 70.

Holmes faces more than 130 felony charges in connection with the brutal attack.

New York-based Fox News reporter Jana Winter covered the case. And in her reporting she relied on two confidential sources. Holmes’ defense team said her reporting compromised their client’s right to a fair trial. They also say her sources violated a Colorado judge’s gag order in the case. The lawyers want to know here she got her information. They want her to reveal her sources.

She refused.

So they went to court.

Initially, the defense lawyers didn’t get very far in Colorado - a judge there was reluctant to order Winter to reveal her sources since he wasn’t sure the evidence she published would be admissible in court. But a Colorado court eventually issued a subpoena for Winter.

The next step was to take the case to New York, arguing that Winter should be forced to return to Colorado and testify about her sources. Holmes’ lawyers argued New York’s Shield Law did not apply since Winters gained her information outside the state.

They won on the first round, but an appeal to the New York State Court of Appeals ended with a 4-3 ruling in Winter’s favor.

“Protection of the anonymity of confidential sources is a core - if not the central - concern underlying New York’s journalist privilege, with roots that can be traced back to the inception of the press in New York,” Judge Victoria A. Graffeo wrote for the majority.

“A rule predicated on where a New York reporter was located when she learned of an anonymous tip would lead to arbitrary results and would ignore several practical realities, including the widespread use of cutting-edge communication technology to facilitate the newsgathering process and the global nature today’s news market,” she added.

Story Continues →