To: State Senate members April 27, 2013
From: Stirling Morita, president, Hawaii Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists
It is with a sense of sadness that I must ask you to vote against House Bill 622, HD1, SD1, CD1, Relating to Evidence. We have tried hard to renew a law that has worked for five years and is being crippled by the Attorney General’s Office, which has no facts to back up its contentions that the law should be dramatically revised.
The intent of shield laws is to benefit journalism but this bill will no longer do so.
This bill exempts so many instances from the source protection privilege that it is almost like having no shield law at all. The media would be better off arguing case law because that’s virtually all the bill allows.
The bill also sells off the future of journalism, leaving questions about whether it would cover Honolulu Weekly, MidWeek, Civil Beat, Hawaii Reporter and Ian Lind and excluding a host of new media.
One of my board members put it this way: “I've been thinking about this bill's impact. I have no crystal ball about the future of journalism, but it takes no genius to predict that the ‘traditional’ part of journalism is likely to keep shrinking and the nontraditional growing.
“So if you are my age or close to it and you are a member of the privileged fraternity of traditional journalists, you might be able to live with such a law as now written. But imagine yourself just starting out, and the coming decades of your career will be anything but traditional. I can't leave the next generation with such a legal legacy.
“This is no longer the Shield Law, it is the Sieve Law, full of holes and worthless in protecting the people's right to know.”
We ask you to protect the public’s right to know what is going on in society by voting against HB 622.
Society of Professional Journalists, Hawaii Chapter
LINK: Hawaii Shield Law Coalition