Shield laws reflect the changing media scene.

29 Mar

Most of the things I listen to Pollies speak about everyday don’t directly apply to me, but in the Press Gallery last week there were excited whispers about a bill being passed. This is unusual because usually we just write a story or talk about it on air and that’s it. Signed, sealed, delivered. Unless it’s a huge piece of legislation with broad affect (NBN, Carbon Price) the conversation doesn’t extend to our lunchtime/pre-presser banter.

Then came Andrew Wilkie’s Evidence Amendment (Journalists’ Privilege) Bill 2010 had us talking for a number of reasons.

  • It was the first Private Member’s Bill to be passed by the current Parliament, and the 18th since Federation.
  • It gives Journos rights to not reveal their sources in Court Hearings, like Doctors and Lawyers. Our sources now become part of a legislated confidentiality agreement.
  • It also gives bloggers, citizen journalists and tweeters the same rights.

Image by Patrick Finney via DanLawton.com

This is a huge reform that finally gives recognition to journalists that they should protect their sources if they have given them their word that they will. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the court room.

For more detail, The Australian has an article that is a good start.

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