For reporter Jana Winter, the notebook that James Holmes mailed to his psychiatrist hours before opening fire in an Aurora movie theater is more than a chilling look inside the mind of a mass killer. It’s the reason she lived for nearly two years under the threat of being jailed in Colorado.
For the CFOIC, revisiting 2014 reveals a somewhat troubling string of stories about issues and problems affecting government transparency in Colorado. Consider them one by one and you might not be all that concerned. But put them in a list and you could reasonably conclude that open government in the Centennial State is still a work in progress.
Fees for public records, protecting the confidential sources of journalists, the Open Meetings Law. These weren’t the topics that grabbed the biggest headlines during the during the 2014 legislative session. But that doesn’t diminish their importance.
On her lawyers’ advice, Fox News reporter Jana Winter turned down an invitation to speak in person at the Colorado Press Association’s annual Capitol Hill luncheon in Denver. But that didn’t prevent her from using technology to implore state lawmakers to reconsider now-dead legislation that would have strengthened Colorado’s journalist shield law.
A bill to increase legal protections for Colorado journalists and their sources died in a state Senate committee. The Senate Judiciary Committee also killed another measure that would have opened records kept by private associations of elected officials that get some of their money from public sources.
Journalists in Colorado would have stronger, but not absolute, protections against being compelled to reveal confidential sources and unreported information under an amendment to a reporter’s shield measure proposed by the bill’s sponsor.
Give state Sen. Bernie Herpin of Colorado Springs credit for understanding not just the Second Amendment on guns, but also a critical component of our system of government: A free press, protected from undue influence from prosecutors and others in government, is necessary to act as a watchdog for our government.
State Sen. Bernie Herpin quoted 18th-century English judge William Blackstone in explaining his reasons for introducing a bill to strengthen the Colorado law that protects a journalist’s confidential sources.
HB 14-1047 would require that commercial websites remove a booking photo free of charge if the arrested person makes a request in writing and that person was not charged with a crime, charges were dropped or the person was acquitted.
Motivated by the ordeal of a Fox News reporter, who could have been jailed for refusing to reveal sources for a story on the Aurora movie theater gunman, Sen. Bernie Herpin says he wants to model Colorado’s press shield law after New York’s law.