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Mercedes, and Solomon Ortiz, D Corpus Christi, and the Senate version both restrict protection to people the government determines "regularly" gather, prepare, collect, photograph, record, write, edit, report or publish news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest Ghd Flat Iron Purple

House legislation, which passed last week 398 21, with support from Reps. Ruben Hinojosa, D Beats Mcm

Freedom of the press extends to anyone engaged in journalism, and the government is not the proper body to define that activity. Readers of this column who pass on information, Internet bloggers in pajamas, storekeepers on Main Street, indeed, all of us, enjoy constitutional protection when engaged in journalism. If this protection is to include a right to refuse to reveal what a journalist receives in confidence, it must apply to all who engage in the activity. Not some.


For 30 years journalists have campaigned for protection at the federal level similar to Instyler press shield laws in 33 states. Texas is not one of them. To their credit, some state legislators, including Rep. Aaron Pea, D Edinburg, have proposed leglation in the past two sessions that would provide more protections both to media and to those who provide them with information. State Sens. Rodney Ellis, D Houston, and Robert Duncan, R Lubbock, offered a more comprehensive Free Flow of Information Act this year. Unfortunately, legislative leadership has not allowed any of these bills to come to a vote by the full Legislature.

for dissemination to the public.

When the Senate takes up the House bill, we urge lawmakers to opt for the provisions of the bill that cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee 15 2 this month. Sen John Cornyn, R San Antonio, a committee member who has long been an advocate for media rights, voted for the measure.

This is dangerous territory. It also misses the point of the First Amendment, which extends not to a government defined category of people, but to all persons, irrespective of vocation or the frequency or the subject matter of their words.


Worse, Rep. That stipulation contradicts the very nature of the bill, which is to allow reporters to give some assurance of confidentiality in return for sensitive information that the source would not provide if he or she feared that his or her identity would be revealed.

But the House version goes even further, limiting protection to those engaged in these acts for "a substantial portion of the person's livelihood or for substantial financial gain."


It is problematic when the government chooses who gets First Amendment protection based on the government's own definition of "regularly" and because of what information "concerns." But when the government decides who is a journalist based on earning a "substantial portion of the person's livelihood" or for receiving "substantial financial gain" it has gone too far.




Even though the issue is rooted in freedom of the press guaranteed by the First Amendment, there is danger of the government arbitrarily choosing who gets protection. That is why the Senate version is superior.




Needed protections


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