This privilege refers to the leeway and limitations reporters have in the process of gathering news.
The important issues include:
This becomes an issue when journalists refuse to give information in defiance of a court order or subpoena. They might face contempt charges for this.
In Branzburg v. Haynes (1972), the Supreme Court ruled that journalists have to comply with grand jury subpoenas if the government shows:
Shield laws protect journalists from facing court action in the process of gathering news.
There are no federal shield laws as of publication, but most states have passed shield laws.
The types of shield laws include:
Gag orders prevent lawyers and trial participants from discussing a case publicly, such as on TV or to other news outlets.
This is necessary in order to prevent the contamination of jury pools and to avoid the damnation of defendants through the court of public opinion.
The Supreme Court has ruled that gag orders directed at the media are unconstitutional unless:
In Zurcher v. Stanford Daily (1978), the Supreme Court ruled that newsrooms do not have a constitutional protection from searches.
The U.S. Congress passed the Privacy Protection Act (1980) to limit such searches (nationwide) to certain situations:
Several states have also passed laws protecting newsrooms from searches.