Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Case to Limit Investigative Reporting?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

As we watch the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continue to unfold, it reminds us of another situation more apparent to our line of duty.  Last Thursday, New York Federal Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ordered documentary producer and director Joe Berlinger to turn over to Chevron more than 600 hours of raw footage used to create a film titled Crude: The Real Price of Oil. If Berlinger’s appeal is rejected, this decision could put a chill on the First Amendment rights of documentary filmmakers and investigative journalists. As discussed by the Huffington Post’s Bill Moyers and Michael Winship article “Chevron’s ‘Crude’ Attempt to Suppress Free Speech,” this violation would limit the legal protection a journalist and their sources would receive in court.

As the Independent Documentary Association asserts, "This case offers a clear and compelling argument for more vigorous federal shield laws to protect journalists and their work, better federal laws to protect confidential sources, and stronger standards to prevent entities from piercing the journalists' privilege. We urge the higher courts to overturn this ruling to help ensure the safety and protection of journalists and their subjects, and to promote a free and vital press in our nation and around the world."

As part of the journalism community, what do you think about this situation?

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