BY TERI TICO – With Hawaii’s journalism shield bill sun setting this year, I support a permanent journalist shield law for Hawaii journalists.
Approximately two-thirds of all States, and the District of Columbia, have various forms of journalist shield laws in effect, recognizing that we cannot have fair and unbiased news reporting without some sort of protection in place that allows journalists to protect the identities of their sources.
Had it not been for the ability of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to protect the identity of a private informant who disclosed the criminal activities of then President Richard Nixon and his administration, the course of our nation may have gone in an entirely different direction—one where people in power are above the law, which is no different than a dictatorship or fascist state.
The shield law, in my opinion, was responsible for maintaining our democracy and the integrity of government, including holding those who broke the law accountable for their crimes.
Just as lawyers must maintain the confidence of our clients, journalists must protect the identity of their sources. If not, the truth will always be manipulated and skewed in favor of the wealthy and the powerful.
Access to justice will be denied and our country subverted to nothing less than a totalitarian government. That is not what our country, and our State, are about. We are about equal justice for all.
Without a journalism shield law, there will be no equal justice.