HideTechdirt is off for Thanksgiving! We'll be back with our regular posts this weekend.
HideTechdirt is off for Thanksgiving! We'll be back with our regular posts this weekend.

Professor Tries To Get Info On Newspaper Commenters

from the shield-laws dept

There have been a bunch of lawsuits lately testing the boundaries of various "shield laws" that protect journalists from having to give up information on sources. There was one recent case that found that even comments on online newspaper articles could be protected by shield laws, as those commenters represented a source. However, a professor in Montana is suing to try to find out the identity of some commenters on a local news article (found via Citizen Media Law Group). The professor had recently lost a lawsuit, and believes that one of the commenters was on the jury -- and that particular comment (which was posted before the case was decided) suggested he had done independent research and believed information (that was false) in making his decision. So, in seeking a new trial, the professor wants the identity of the commenter in question. Attorneys for the professor claim that the juror admitted to writing the post in an affidavit, though the juror now says he did not. Either way, apparently the strong shield laws in Montana mean that the newspaper probably won't have to give up the info.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: comments, journalism, newspapers, shield laws


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    JohnRaven,CHT,CSH (profile), 9 Jun 2009 @ 6:04am

    Think of the Children...

    Sure... it sounds so seductive. Just give in... this one time. Go ahead, ignore the shield laws. Give up the name of the EVIL JUROR. It's just one time... right? We can stop after just one... can't we?

    Kevin is right. The laws are there to protect sources. This allows reporters... ESPECIALLY investigative reporters to do some high power articles on everything from corruption to consumer fraud.

    If their sources know that they can be revealed to "just a judge", how do you think they're going to feel about coming forward to tell me the truth about what's going on say... at a daycare where kids are being abused, or a restaraunt where they are using inferior meat, etc?

    That's asking to give up attorney-client privledge.... just this one time. Which is always fine... unless it's the one time that affects you.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Advertisment

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord

The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...

Loading...
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.