Imagine writing an investigative story with confidential sources only to be told you have to reveal your sources or go to jail. Yeah, it happened to Jana Winter of Fox News and she was told earlier this week she does not have to reveal them, after all.
A New York based journalist, Winter was subpoenaed to appear in a Colorado court to reveal the identities of law enforcement officials who gave her information about the case of the gunman who killed 12 people at a midnight showing of “Batman” at a theater in Aurora, CO in July of 2012. These law enforcement officials were promised confidentiality after telling her the mass murderer had sent a notebook to a psychiatrist at the University of Colorado indicating he was going to kill people and how he would do so. Winter vowed to go to jail rather than reveal her sources.
Winter was based in New York where the state’s shield law protects journalists from having to reveal their confidential sources regardless of the state in which they go to gather their information.
Without a doubt, this is a huge win for journalists and journalism. If a reporter cannot do their job to inform the public when they are given sensitive information by confidential sources, then it limits what the public can be told because of fear of possible jail time. The shield law exists in most states and varies accordingly, but New York’s seems to offer the most protection to the journalists based there.
What do you think? Should Winter have been forced to divulge her sources?
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