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Journalists' Privilege to Withhold Information in Judicial and Other Proceedings: State Shield Statutes

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Abstract:

Absent a statutory or constitutional recognition of journalistic privilege, a reporter may be compelled to testify in legal, administrative, or other governmental proceedings. To date, thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have recognized a journalists' privilege through enactment of press "shield laws," which protect the relationship between reporters, their source, and sometimes, the information that may be communicated in that relationship. The journalists' privilege is distinct from other recognized privileges, in that the privilege vests only with the journalist, not with the source of the information.

This report briefly provides an overview of general trends among the states individual statutes. The remainder of this report sets forth the full text of the state shield statutes.