Dodge City — Update

The showdown over a confidential source in Dodge City is over, although the larger issue of journalistic ethics versus Kansas state law is not.  Reporter Claire O’Brien is no longer being fined $1,000 a day for contempt, but this excerpt from the Kansas City Star sums it up pretty well:

“Hopefully it will show the Legislature how hopelessly tangled this situation can become without a clear statute showing the way,” O’Brien said after the hearing.

Doug Anstaett, executive director of the Kansas Press Association, said his group has been approached by some legislators who want to help. He said the KPA will work with them in the coming weeks to make sure Kansas joins the 35 other states with a shield law to protect reporters.

“This episode has awakened members of the Kansas Legislature to the sad fact that reporters have no protection under state law,” Anstaett said in a phone interview. “Who is going to go out on a limb as a reporter if the courts and prosecutors are just going to be standing there with a chain saw to destroy the very tools a reporter uses to report the news?”

If reporters don’t have the ability to talk to people anonymously, valuable investigative reporting will go away, he said.

We have invited Ms. O’Brien to talk to fellow journalists at the upcoming Region 7 Conference in Omaha.  She’s a passionate, dedicated journalist with a story to tell.

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