On July 24, a bipartisan group of Members of Congress held a forum on press freedom to examine recent threats and attacks against the media. Much of the discussion focused on the changing landscape in the media and attacks and threats from President Trump. Congress could take several steps to strengthen freedom of the press, we argued, including enacting a shield bill to protect journalists’ sources, a law to protect free speech against abusive libel [More]
Journalists who routinely cover national security and foreign affairs topics take care to carefully consider possible harms to national security, privacy or similar interests from disclosures of information in their stories. Journalists carefully weigh government assertions of harm. There are limits to what can be classified. Executive Order 13526 makes clear that information can only be classified if protection is “required” in the interest of national security. Further, information can never be classified in order [More]
The August edition of Editor and Publisher magazine includes a feature article I wrote in defense of leaks. “Leaks” often describe any unauthorized disclosure of either classified or unclassified information, and those disclosures are the basis for a great deal of daily news reporting that benefits the public interest. There have been efforts in the past to shut down “leaks,” however any efforts to curtail all leaks is misguided and harms the public’s access to [More]
Newseum Institute’s State of the First Amendment report A Newseum Institute survey on public attitudes toward the First Amendment shows the public still strongly and consistently supports the freedoms of the First Amendment. The survey found two-thirds of respondents (67.7%) agreed “the media should act as a watchdog of the government.” The percentage of respondents agreeing that the news media reports without bias nearly doubled to 43.1% from a year ago. Other results on topics [More]
President-elect Trump used Twitter to announce he asked the House and Senate intelligence committees to identify who provided to NBC News a memorandum outlining the intelligence community’s assessment of efforts by the Russian government to influence the presidential election. A threat of an investigation by Congress into unauthorized disclosures to the news media should be taken seriously. As has been widely reported, the report obtained by NBC the version for public release, not the classified version with sensitive details [More]
Unnamed sources can undermine an audience’s belief that a story is true. It’s good for an audience to be skeptical. Here’s how veteran journalists use unnamed sources and ensure they are reporting factual information by relying on multiple sources to get the story right.
The Sunshine in Government Initiative strongly objects to Intelligence Community Directive 119 (ICD 119), which bans all but pre-approved contacts between the intelligence community and journalists and others who disseminate news and analysis. The Directive has the practical effect of discouraging interactions with the media about unclassified issues that have nothing to do with national security and are the basis for the daily news about what is happening around the globe. Such conversations routinely take [More]
The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014 (CISA), released as a draft by Chairman Dianne Feinstein on June 17 and soon to be considered by the Senate Intelligence Committee, would threaten the flow of accurate news and information to the public and policymakers. The bill would allow government agencies to collect, without a warrant or other traditional legal process, journalists’ phone and other records if the government considers the journalists or their sources threats to [More]
The action of the U.S. Department of Justice is an affront to the relationship between the government and news media that our nation’s founders established over two centuries ago. Journalists experienced in reporting on global affairs and national security respect the government’s need to keep information confidential to protect national security and carefully consider the government’s concerns when reporting on such matters. Last year Congress rejected a package of changes from the Senate Intelligence Committee [More]
In honor of Sunshine Week, the Sunshine in Government Initiative (SGI) is pleased to recognize three leaders in government who will receive SGI’s Sunshine in Government Award (“Sunshine Award”) for their commitment and work to strengthen open government.