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SPJ Holding Obama To His Pledge To Support Shield Law

The Society of Professional Journalists is holding President-elect Barack Obama to his pledge of support for a federal shield law.

“We call on the President-elect to make good on his campaign comments that he will continue to support the passage of a federal shield law,” SPJ President Dave Aeikens said in a statement Thursday. “This is a critical piece of legislation to continue to assure the flow of information.”

A bill to institute the shield passed in the House but got held up in the Senate after the Justice Department strongly oppsed it and concerns were raised over who in the new media world if millions of blogger would or would not be covered by the shield. There was some hope for passage in a lame duck session, but that hope has faded.

The bill protects journalists and their sources from overzealous government investigations, mirroring similar laws or case law in 49 of 50 states. "It’s time to stop the threat of jail or fines for reporters who are simply doing their jobs, providing a link in democracy between government and the citizens,” said Aeikens.

The bill is expected to be reintroduced early in the next session.