By Senator Curt Bramble
District 16A discussion with Al Manzi, publisher of the Daily Herald, convinced me to run a bill that provides protections to reporters and their confidential sources.
I think the state should allow for a working dynamic similar to attorneys and their clients - or a priest and the parishioner who seeks his help.I opened the bill file last night.
Attorney General Mark Shurtleff
and the SPJ
have been at the forefront of this issue for some time; I talked to Mark this morning and will work with him to craft the appropriate language.
The press is frequently critical of elected officials, including me. However, I don’t know how to have a free country without putting up with reporters.
While I may not like what they write, media access to information seems indispensable to ensuring government is open and accountable. Capable, incisive, investigative journalism is a hallmark and protector of a free society. It seems wise to protect that tradition. Jefferson, in 1787, said,
“. . . were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
The existence of our government seems pretty secure at this point, so we may want to make sure reporters have some security as well.
A second motivation for this bill is to address judicial activism. Utah’s policy on Reporters’ Privilege is currently determined by judicial edict and precedent. As a rule, important public policy decisions should be set by elected officials who are directly accountable to the people. The legislature needs to define the rules; I’m not willing to abdicate that responsibility to the courts.