Reporter Privilege: A Con Job or an Essential Element of Democracy?

Two widely divergent cases in recent months have given the public some idea as to what
exactly reporter privilege is and whether it may or may not be important in guaranteeing
the free flow of information in society. Whether it’s important or not depends on point of
view, and, sometimes, one’s political perspective.

The case of San Francisco Giants baseball star Barry Bonds and the ongoing issues with
steroid use fueled one case in which two San Francisco Chronicle reporters were held in
contempt and sentenced to 18 months in jail for refusing to reveal the source of leaked
grand jury testimony. According to the testimony, Bonds was among several star athletes
who admitted using steroids in the past, although he claimed he did not know at the time
the substance he was taking contained steroids.

For more, read public scholar Tony Pederson’s paper.

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