Yesterday we asked: following the “outrageous” threat to jail Herald Sun
journalists Michael Harvey and Gerard McManus, how far should a
reporter go to protect their sources? If we were expecting sympathy
from subscribers, we got it dead wrong.

“First, it’s highly likely that, except in the opinion of
self-interested journalists, it’s not outrageous at all,” responds Mike
Burke. “You can’t have it both ways; you cannot expect others to obey
the law while ignoring it yourselves.”

Burke’s comments found favour with Mike Woking: “There is no ‘dilemma’
on sources,” he writes. “They remain confidential as per the Journalist
Club’s ethics (bit of an oxymoron, eh?) UNTIL the law, properly
applied, requires otherwise.”

And: “Many of us outside the
‘journalist/commentator/they-who-get-published-or-airtime’ Club are
bemused by the frequent moaning emanating from within the Club when the
laws of the land are applied to a Club member,” writes Woking. “Where
is it written that Club members are above the law, (other than in Club

At Crikey, we like to think we’re club busters – law abiding club
busters. So we’ll cop the flak, which you can find on the site here.
In Washington, however, Republican Congressman Mike Pence and Senator
Richard Lugar beg to disagree with our critics. They’re sponsoring a
bill that would guarantee journalists protection from revealing their
sources to courts.

“If you believe in limited government, you understand that the only
check on government power in real time is a free and independent
press,” Pence told the Indianapolis Star in this report yesterday.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey