Tuesday, November 08, 2005

More Journalists Being Subpoenaed These Days?

Probably not. But here's an interesting column from a reporter in the (self-described) hinterlands who got a yellow sheet of paper from the local DA recently, and who started wondering whether he shouldn't have paid closer attention to that Judith Miller business.
Wipe away all the political discourse about the mainstream media and the right wing or left wing and any conspiracies fueled by overactive Beltway imaginations, and the issue involved in Patrick Fitzgerald’s subpoena of Miller and Valerie Leftwich’s subpoena of me are roughly the same.

An arm of the state wants to use the benefit of a reporter’s work to make its case.


I’m more convinced than ever that the state should tread lightly when asking reporters to testify, lest whistleblowers and other likely sources of information feel that promises of confidentiality can never be honored. Equally apparent is that journalists should be careful with such promises of anonymity.

I'm one of those who subscribe to the "journalists are the same as everybody else, just with a more interesting job" school of thinking about our role in public life. I recognize that we have an important First Amendment protection from being used as moles with official cover, and that's great. I don't want to be a stooge any more than the next guy. But when I hear stories about editors not voting because they think that makes them objective, I really cringe.

(Interesting fact: George Gallup, founder of the Gallup poll, stopped voting after he founded his business. Look it up.)


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