Journalistic Privilege, Free Press/ Fair Trial Issues, and Problems in Gaining Access to Information
While the principal focus of this text is on the laws and regulations affecting commercial speech, readers should also be aware of a number of legal issues related to the news-gathering and disseminating process facing the print and broadcast journalists with whom they share the marketplace of ideas.
Among these issues are the arguments for and against granting journalists a constitutional or statutory "privilege" to withhold information from legislative and judicial authorities. A second issue is the inevitable tensions involved in protecting the freedom of journalists to fully and accurately report on the criminal and civil law processes while at the same time ensuring that those parties actually involved in the legal process are afforded the right to a fair and unbiased judicial proceeding that the Constitution promises.
A third important issue is the balancing of the degree of First Amendment or statutory right of access to public records and public meetings versus the competing important governmental interests in protecting privacy and efficient policy making.
The reader should note that this chapter is purposely written from the perspective of the news journalist because the issues discussed most directly impact the news gathering process. However, these issues have implications for public relations practitioners and, to a lesser degree, advertising professionals as well. These are noted in the chapter where appropriate.
Imagine that you recently asked one of your friends, a part-time reporter for a local daily newspaper in your area, to give you a ride to get your car at the repair shop. She agreed, but added "I hope you don't mind if we make just