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Don't give media a federal shield law

June 01, 2007

"Shielding journalism," editorial, May 27

Reporters should trust the 1st Amendment and the courts to protect the essential interests of the public in their reporting. Reporters do not need and should not fear the judicial process in relation to shielding their sources from public disclosure. In those cases in which source confidentiality is argued, the issue is always one of whose rights should have primacy -- the right of a reporter to shield or the right of the public to compel disclosure. Although shield laws have been enacted in several states, the nature of a federal shield is different because of the nature of certain cases involving national security that come before federal courts. In such cases, reporters' rights are not now, and should never be, allowed to become absolute, because the ultimate consequences for a free press would be bad. There should be no federal shield law.

BOB CONDON

Clyde Hill, Wash.

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