By: E&P Staff
Maine now has a reporter’s shield law protecting confidential sources and information unless the disclosure is crucial to a court case, or there is an “overriding” public interest involved.
Democratic Gov. John Baldacci signed the bill, sponsored by Portland Democrat Rep. John Hinck, into law as Maine’s legislature adjourned until next January.
“Journalists and whistleblowers deserve protection from those who would silence, intimidate or retaliate against them,” Hinck said when the bill was voted out of committee last month. “This positive vote signals that legislators recognize the critical role of the press in our democracy.”
“An Act To Shield Journalists’ Confidential Sources” prohibits any “judicial, legislative, administrative or other body with the power to issue a subpoena” from forcing a journalist to identify a confidential source or the source’s.
The shield law does not protect “non-confidential” information such as reporters’ notes or unpublished photographs, the Maine Press Association (MPA) noted.
The bill was supported by the MPA, the Maine Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Maine Association of Broadcasters.