In the midst of all of the harumphing
about this month’s chemical spill into a tributary of the Ohio River and
the nine-county ban on tap water for days, NPR recorded a West
Virginian saying, “Without water, we’re up a creek without a paddle.”
Congress is considering a federal shield law for journalists whose sources, notes, unused images and testimony sometimes are demanded by federal courts and officials. At its most basic level, a shield must protect reporters' promises of confidentiality to sources. Otherwise, reporters will have to choose between breaking their promise or jail. State laws provide some shield but not in federal proceedings. Still, I'm no fan of shield laws.