Protecting Public Interest Reporting: What Is the Future of Journalistic Privilege?
Forthcoming, Irish Jurist
18 Pages Posted: 3 May 2017 Last revised: 6 Jun 2017
Date Written: April 1, 2017
Questions have recently been raised by the Disclosure Tribunal about the scope and basis of journalistic privilege: does it exist; who is it for; and when should it apply? This paper considers these questions in light of the decisions of courts in Ireland, Canada, Europe and England & Wales.
It argues that there is no such thing as journalistic privilege. There is no absolute immunity from scrutiny for any person who describes themselves as a reporter.
However, there is a strong argument that the law should recognise an exemption from legal obligations to disclose information; that there should be a presumption that news journalists are entitled to this exemption; but that this should be confined to situations where an exemption is sought in respect of material obtained by a journalist in good faith, the disclosure of which would undermine responsible news gathering practices.
Keywords: freedom of expression, constitutional law, media law, journalistic privilege, disclosure
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