The Obama administration, leading Senate Democrats and a coalition of news organizations have reached tentative agreement on legislation providing greater protections against the fining or imprisonment of reporters who refuse to identify confidential sources.
Under the deal, made public Friday, federal judges could quash subpoenas demanding testimony or information from reporters if the judges determined that the public interest in news gathering outweighed the need to uncover the source of a leak, including, in some circumstances, unauthorized disclosure of classified government information.
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Protection under the so-called shield law would also be extended to unpaid bloggers engaged in gathering and disseminating news.
A version of shield legislation was approved by the House in March. But a similar bill has stalled in the Senate, and its prospects appeared to dim significantly in September when the administration, responding to apprehension expressed by intelligence agencies and prosecutors, took a harder line with regard to cases in which the government could claim national security concerns.
Read More: By CHARLIE SAVAGE, New York Times