Radio Australia Covers Hawaii’s Journalism Shield Law Controversy

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Hawaii First Amendment attorney Jeff Portnoy testifies on journalism shield legislation in 2008

Hawaii journalists had a media shield law, considered one of the best in the country, until June 30, 2013. Radio Australia covered the issue in depth in its report this week, interviewing Hawaii Reporter editor Malia Zimmerman, Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom and Media Attorney Jeff Portnoy.

Portnoy, who recently received an award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his work on the issue, blames Senate Judiciary Chair Clayton Hee for the demise of the important law.


The law, passed in 2008, helped protect sources and unpublished material from civil subpoenas and twice was used by “non-traditional” journalists in court and by attorneys who protected their journalism clients out of court, simply by citing it.

The law helped Hawaii Reporter after its journalists and records were subpoenaed in a civil case related to the breach of the Ka Loko Dam, which killed seven people and an unborn child March 14, 2006.

Slom said he will introduce the legislation again in 2014 in hopes it will become law again.

Hear the report here by Geraldine Coutts, Presenter of Pacific Beat, ABC Division for Radio Australia.






  1. While I understand why this is a controversial topic, I don;t think discussing it publicly will help in any way because most people would interpret this as propaganda.

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