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Approve Reporter Protections

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A key to effective watchdog journalism is the ability of reporters to protect the confidentiality of their news sources. Yet, in Utah a legal tool for doing that is lacking. In fact, Utah is one of only three states without a so-called "shield law."

That could change if the Utah Supreme Court adopts a new rule recommended by the court's Advisory Committee on the Rules of Evidence.

The proposed rule would give reporters what attorneys call "near absolute privilege" against disclosing the identity of a confidential news source. Reporters would be largely protected from going to jail, as they now could do, for refusing to reveal a source.

Why is this important?

In a free society, responsible news organizations, such as KSL, and their reporters have an inherent responsibility to keep government in check. As watchdogs, they are always on the lookout for corruption, mismanagement and excess. And they occasionally depend on confidential sources to supply crucial information. Without the ability to protect those sources, the free flow of information is jeopardized and the public's right to know is compromised.

KSL strongly urges the Utah Supreme Court to accept the recommendation of its Advisory Committee on the Rules of Evidence. Society is the better when responsible journalists are shielded from frivolous prosecution.

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