Local Connection: Hawaii's Shield Law

Local Connection: Hawaii's Shield Law

By: Rick Blangiardi

Hawaii's shield law, the one that allows journalists to claim reporter's privilege in keeping their sources secret in certain cases, is not really top of mind for most of our citizens.

Sometimes there is no other way to tell a story and to get information out to the public. For most of our stories, probably 95 percent, we don't use information provided to us anonymously. Television news relies on sources appearing on camera to tell their story.

However, as Hawaii News Now has ramped up our investigative coverage, we have brought you important stories that started with tips from confidential sources.

Those include much of the coverage we broke on the UH Stevie Wonder blunder, complaints about workplace violence incidents at HPD's training academy, billionaire Larry Ellison's purchase of Lanai and the fact that more than a dozen state tax department employees were under investigation and on paid leave. That's just a small sampling.

Unfortunately, Sen. Clayton Hee and the Judiciary Committee have introduced amendments to one of the best shield laws in the country which would gut the limited privilege journalists now have in these cases. We are especially concerned about the elimination of protection for unpublished information, which could make it available to law enforcement.

Letting our shield law get obliterated will make sure that doing those important watchdog stories will become much more difficult to produce. And your right to know what's going on will be severely limited.

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