Thursday, February 02, 2006

Shield Law V: What about unpublished information?

The Philippine Shield Law seems to imply that the protection to newsmen from compelled revelations pertains only to the source of information which APPEARED IN THE PUBLICATION.
So the shield law applies in "published information"--information that appeared in the publicaiton.
What about "unpublished information"?
Can a lawyer in a case subpoena a newsman to produce materials like contents of audio tape recordings which were not used in the publication?
There is what is called "out-takes" in news parlance.
A lawyer can specifically ask the court to produce portions of the tape interview other than those that appeared in the publication.
The lawyer seking the subpoena can argue that what he is seeking is "unpublished information" which is outside the coverage of the Philippine shield law.
Can the newsman be compelled to produce "unpublished information"?
Yes, because Philippine law covers only those "appearing in said publication"
Let's take a look at the California shield law.
According to the Califronia shield law a newsman cannot be cited for contempt for "refusing to disclose any unpublished information obtained or prepared in gathering, receiving or processing of information for communication to the public."
The California shield law defines "unpublished information" as information not disseminated to the public by the person from whom disclosure is sought, whether or not related information has been disseminated and includes, but is not limited to, all notes, outtakes, photographs, tapes or other data of whatever sort not itself disseminated to the public through a medium of communication.
I am in favor of expanding the Philippine shield law to include "unpublished information" as among those which newsmen cannot be compelled to reveal.
To limit the protection from compelled disclosure to published information defeats the purpose of the shield law and does not help in maintianing the "newsman-source privilege".

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