1st Edition

Journalists, Anonymous Sources and the Law A Comparative, Theoretical and Critical Analysis

By Damian Carney Copyright 2018
    256 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book considers whether news gatherers should be required to disclose the identity of anonymous sources used in their stories by courts or other bodies. The vast majority of media self-regulatory codes impose an obligation not to disclose the identity of such sources, but many legal systems have traditionally been reluctant to offer such a degree of protection to anonymous sources, or any at all. However, the latter part of the twentieth century and early twenty-first century has seen an explosion in the number of such ‘source protection’ laws, and much judicial and legislative activity to change existing laws.

    Drawing on media and communications theories the book identifies a number of different theoretical justifications for source protection laws and analyzes whether the application of existing laws are consistent with any of these theories. Using legal materials and codes from a wide variety of countries it considers whether there are any noticeable trends in how different countries address this issue. It explores the influence of the United States and the European Court of Human Rights’ jurisprudence on the matter beyond their jurisdictions, and asks the question whether this is an area of law captured by ‘globalisation,’ or whether countries with different constitutional and media traditions have developed different approaches to ‘source protection.’

    Finally having assess the arguments in support of source protection laws Damian Carney puts forward a model clause and model shield law for the protection of anonymous sources which is theoretically and practically robust.

    1. Introduction  2. Anonymous sources  3. Theories and justifications for protection of anonymous sources  4. Anonymous sources and media ethics  5. The protected recipient – journalists and other public communicators  6. Legal protection of anonymous sources  7. Whose privilege and the waiver of privilege 8. Preventing circumvention of source protection laws  9. Model clauses for media codes and model shield laws and their application  10. Conclusion


    Damian Carney is a Principle Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, UK.