Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Why do we need national shield law?

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Greg Peck
June 5, 2013

Last month, we learned that the Justice Department secretly obtained phone records of more than 100 Associated Press reporters and monitored Fox News reporter James Rosenís personal email and cellphone records. Collecting phone records risked revealing communications with confidential sources in many of the APís newsgathering projects.

Wisconsin is among 49 states with reporter shield protections. Yet none protects a reporter who is subpoenaed in a federal lawsuit or investigation.

This isnít the first time the issue has been hot, that the time has been right to pass a national shield law. Perhaps you recall the prominent case involving Judith Miller. This New York Times reporter spent 85 days behind bars for refusing to tell a grand jury whom she spoke with about covert CIA official Valerie Plame, whose identity was leaked in 2003.

In 2005, newspapers around the country were calling for passage of Sen. Richard Lugarís national shield legislation. Yet it never became law.

Why is such legislation important to freedom for all Americans, and how can you help get it passed? Weíll share details and perspectives in our editorial Thursday.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook

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