New federal ‘shield’ bill step in right direction

When Congress returns from recess later this month, it is expected to take up debate on a bill known as the Free Flow of Information Act.

Working journalists refer to such meansures, should it be passed, as shield laws, bcause they, in large measure, shield the press and public from the efforts of government to keep us quiet.

Let’s be clear. This bill is a far cry from the kind of assurances of freedom of the press the Founding Fathers had in mind.

That said, it’s a definite step in the right direction at a time when such steps are crucial.

Most veteran journalists we know aren’t intimidated by the government. Our concern is that many of our most important sources for news – the people who often work for government but speak out when government abuses its power – may be concerned that their identities will become public.

For the record, we are not referring to the likes of illegal leakers Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning. We’re talking about garden variety public servants who step forward to reveal corruption, incompetence and wasteful spending.

Limits must be placed on the government’s ability to harrass the press.

We would urge Congress to quickly pass the Free Flow of Information Act and send it to President Barack Obama for signature.