Saturday, July 09, 2005

A chilling effect? You bet.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has reportedly shelved two investigative reports in light of the Miller/Cooper source decision. Editor Doug Clifton said that because the reports involved illegally leaked documents, publication could lead to jailing of his reporters. Talk about a chilling effect.

The Plain Dealer's website features a special report about ""Your Right to Know," a Plain Dealer feature designed to help you find the tools to become a better informed citizen." Clifton himself has an open letter on this general subject here here. The site also features special reports on Iraq, Coingate, and other in-depth topics. I doubt more will be added in the near future. In fact, you may want to read these reports while you still can. I assume the Plain Dealer and many other papers are doing reviews to see if they may be liable for something already published.

Last week, the Plain Dealer published an editorial about the potential damage an adverse ruling in the Miller/Cooper case might cause:

The frightening truth thus revealed is that the government now has the power to muzzle the press without even having to tell why.... If Miller and Cooper are sentenced today to some form of incarceration, it will be because they were true to the promises they made to their sources and because they genuinely believe in the principle of a free media doing its job - nothing more and nothing less. Yet this case now has the potential to make many publications think twice before printing information they know to be true - but that might bring a similar prosecutorial full-court press for sources to be revealed.
And here we are.


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