No ‘Shield Law’ In Vermont For Any Media
...But There Will Be
By Dell Hill
it one of the hazards of publishing a blog and tending to same as the
sole “proprietor”. A one-man gang. The chief, cook and bottle washer.
recently learned that a political blogger lost a quarter of a million
dollar civil law suit because her state did not have a “shield law” to
protect reporters from revealing confidential (but unnamed) sources. In
essence, the court said “sorry, you’re not covered by this state’s
shield law”, as it awarded a king’s ransom to the plaintiff.
state in question had a shield law in place, but it was passed before
the age of electronic media (the Internet), and the blogger was
publishing news items exclusively online.
piqued my curiosity. I wondered if I would be protected, should I be
challenged in court, to reveal confidential sources of information or
risk a contempt citation - and possibly jail - for doing so. It took
about two minutes of research to discover that Vermont is one of ten
States that doesn’t have such a law on the books.
the weekend, I contacted my State Senator and we discussed this issue
in detail. He agreed that such a law was needed and asked me to help
his office get the ball rolling. I agreed and have spent a goodly
portion of today working on that request.
still have a few rough edges to smooth out, but it’s now coming
together. And I’m now dealing with two more members of state government
to dot all of the “i”s and cross all of the “t”s.
the blog has suffered from inattention, but this - in my opinion - is
extremely important. Should I become embroiled in such a criminal or
civil court case, it could cost me everything.
I’ll try to keep all y’all posted on what I now call “Dell’s Law” and thank you for your understanding.