Tuesday, February 10, 2015

New Jersey Shield Law...Protection for Reporter's in the Garden State?

In the state of New Jersey to protect reporters and there sources the state enacted a shield law to protect the sources of the journalists and news materials a part of the story.  N.J. Stat. 2A:84A-21 states that a person engaged on, engaged in, connected with or employed by news media for the purpose of gathering, procuring, transmitting, compiling, editing or disseminating news for the general public has a privilege to refuse to disclose before any investigative body

The statute also states that the news media means newspapers, magazines, press associations, news agencies, wire services, radio, television, and photographic or electronic means of disseminating news to the general public as defined by New Jersey shield law. As long as you have a relationship with one of the news media before you are covered under the law as disseminating news.

New Jersey shield law protects not only the identity of a source, but also any information that would lead to identification. According to the law in the Garden State publishing some information does not eliminate the law’s protection of the sources identity, stating that you do not have to promise the source confidentiality in order to protect the source identity with the shield law.

The Pros of the shield law protects reporter’s privilege.  As long as the reporter is engaged in investigative journalism, gathering the news and that the intent is to disseminate such information to the public.  The pros of true protection are under the New Jersey shield law. The Con’s are that student journalist are not covered under Jersey’s shield law, as well as, non traditional journalists are not securely protected under the law because the investigative reporting part of reporter’s privilege could present a problem for some reporters of under those sections to protect the sources of there stories.

The law should have student journalists under the protection of the law. Students can have investigative pieces or stories, without protection sources can find themselves identified if asked by a court.  Students and non-traditional journalist a part of reputable sites should be put under the reporter’s privilege standard of newspapers and television that reside in New Jersey. 

I have not had any experiences of having to use the shield law in the state of New Jersey. The law has not been used in my life or those of other’s student journalists I know in the state of New Jersey. The law is present in Jersey but for those reporter’s that  have a connection to a reputable medium outlet.

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