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Debate: Should journalists be allowed to protect sources even against subpoena?

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Are journalists justified in protecting the identity of sources from even government subpoenas?

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Yes

  • Freedom of press demands the right of journalists to protect their confidential sources. Freedom of press is a typical right within democracies. But, how can the press truly be free, if it can't protect confidential sources from subpoenas? Free press demands complete freedom of reportage and source-finding. To fully cover an issue, no limits should be placed on the information that can be obtained, nor the sources from which that information is extracted. But, if it is required that the identity of sources be divulged by the press upon subpoena, then confidential sources will never be able to trust reporters, and the freedom of reporters to utilize these sources will be severely curtailed.




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No

  • There is a more compelling state interest in achieving justice. While it may be valuable for free press to exist, it is more valuable that criminals be brought to justice for their crimes. If bringing a criminal to justice requires that a subpoena be respected by journalist and the identity of the criminal revealed by the journalist, than any sacrifice of "free press" that this entails is worth it. Justice takes precedent over free press.



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Yes

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No

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