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Monday, October 20, 2008

Journalistic privilege - an NZ postscript

My post earlier today on journalistic privilege was based on reading Clay Shirky's book Here Comes Everybody and the issues he raises are interesting and well worth a read, particularly those on the roles/rights of bloggers and who can be defined as a journalist.

But the book refers to US laws and practice, and Jim Tucker quite rightly responded to my post with a clarification about the situation in New Zealand, which I wanted to add here as a postscript:

Journalistic privilege means a lot more than just the "legal right to protect sources", and when it comes to that right, it applies only to our lower court (under the Evidence Act) but can be overridden at High Court and above.

Privilege applies to qualified privilege, which has many applications - protection in covering court and local government meetings, publishing official statements, covering Parliament.

It also applies to anyone's right to impart information, if there is an argument that the imparter has a duty to tell and the receiver has a duty to receive. It also applies to reporting political discussion (the Lange defence).

The whole point about this in countries whose law and media conventions are rooted in the Commonwealth is that everyone has the right, not just journalists. So [Clay Shirky's] argument might be a problem in the US, but it doesn't apply here.

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