Freedom Of The Press: Where’s Colorado?

“You can’t arrest me, I’m a member of the press!” If only it were that easy.

Since the national security blitz flowing September 11th (color-coded terror alerts anyone?), at least three individuals have been jailed for refusing to testify or reveal sources and information to federal authorities.

The good news? Colorado is one of more than 30 states with a shield law, which protects reporters from being forced to disclose confidential sources.

The not-so-good news? The law doesn’t necessarily help if the feds come knocking. And amid a campaign in Congress to protect reporters, only crickets can be heard from Colorado’s delegation so far.One proposal is the Free Flow of Information Act of 2007 introduced by Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and Mike Pence (R-Ind.), which would be a federal shield law for criminal and civil cases unless the information is needed “to prevent imminent and actual harm to national security.”

But if passed, the resolution won’t apply to just those who have offices. The new bill also includes provisions to protect bloggers and other freelancers who happen to come in contact with Uncle Sam. The most notable and recent case being Josh Wolf, a young videographer who was incarcerated for refusing to deliver footage of a 2005 protest in San Francisco and became the longest-jailed journalist in the country’s history.

With the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reporting that the U.S. Attorney General has approved 65 media subpoenas since 2001, no Congressional representatives from Colorado are co-sponsoring the bill, and none of them seem to be talking about it yet.

On the bright side, the same can’t be said for government transparency.

Another issue is the OPEN Government Act of 2007, which would strengthen and speed up responses to Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests-which could be considered a blessing to any investigative reporter who has had to deal with apathetic liaisons and legal loopholes. The resolution was recently blocked from discussion by an anonymous Senate hold.

Turns out it was Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, from the nearby state of Arizona, who was responsible.

The House passed the resolution last week, with all representatives from Colorado voting for it except for Rep. Diana DeGette who did not vote.

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About the Author

Erin Rosa

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature.

Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state.

Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters.

She can be reached at erosa@coloradoindependent.com.

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