Judge wrong to threaten Patch reporter with jail

A person should not go to jail for reporting the truth.

It’s really that simple, yet a judge in Illinois thinks otherwise.

Judge Gerald Kinney has ordered a Patch reporter to cough up his sources – expose the person who leaked police reports the judge wanted sealed. Joe Hosey of Joliet, Ill., has until Sept. 20 to provide the information or go to jail. Hosey is appealing.

I’m not going to go into the details of the case or Hosey’s news coverage – he’s covering a high-profile murder that people want to know about. Hosey’s attorney is arguing the state shield law protects the journalist. Experts will opine. They might battle in court.

What is more important, though, is the message this sends that servants in our government would think it’s OK to imprison a journalist for protecting those who would provide accurate information of high interest to the public.

Society depends on leakers. We rely on people providing us information that we care about, even if the government doesn’t want it out. Even if the information is inconvenient. Some of the best reporting – incredible journalism that makes a difference – is based on such leaks.

If Judge Kinney gets away with this, and Hosey goes to jail, then that will embolden prosecutors, judges and others to chill the flow of information in America. We can not have this.

Hosey, we support you. We support good journalism. And anyone and everyone in Illinois should take time out of their day to salute you, email their thoughts to Judge Kinney, and take a stand for freedom of information and journalism.

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