Editorial: Expand the reach of shield law

From The Denver Post: A bill to strengthen Colorado’s shield law is a long time coming but so is an update to the antiquated law that offers no protection to bloggers.

Sen. Bernie Herpin, R-Colorado Springs, is sponsoring a bill to make it tougher to put reporters on the stand in Colorado.

Herpin conjured the bill after realizing Fox News reporter Jana Winter may not have been afforded protection under Colorado’s law. She could have been forced to decide between jail or revealing who told her about contents of a notebook from Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes.

Thankfully, a New York appellate court in December ruled Winter could be protected by that state’s shield laws, which are stronger than Colorado’s.

Herpin wants to make Colorado’s law more like New York’s, where someone seeking to subpoena a reporter must prove the information is “critical or necessary” to a case, which is not true in Colorado.

Reporters still could be called to testify but Herpin’s bill raises the standard for getting a subpoena.

The issue is important because reporters must be able to get people to talk confidentially without fear of ending up in court for no compelling reason.

Yet Herpin’s bill does contain one major deficiency. It fails to offer protection for bloggers or other electronic journalists.

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