The independent. (Vernonia, Or.) 1986-current, August 05, 2010, Page Page 3, Image 3

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    The INDEPENDENT, August 5, 2010
Where to Find Them
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden
1220 SW 3rd Avenue, Suite 585
Portland OR 97232
Phone: 503-326-7525
223 Dirksen Senate Ofc. Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510-0001
Phone: 202-224-5244
Website: http://wyden.senate.
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley
One World Trade Center
121 SW Salmon St., Suite 1250
Portland, OR 97204
Phone: 503-326-3386
107 Russell Senate Ofc. Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-3753
E-Mail: http://merkley.senate.
WebSite: http://merkley.senate.
U.S. Representative David Wu
(Dem) OR District 1
620 SW Main, Suite 606
Portland, OR 97205
Phone: 503-326-2901
2338 Rayburn House Ofc. Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-0855
Senator Betsy Johnson
(Dem) Senate District 16
PO Box R,
Scappoose, OR 97056
Phone: 503-543-4046
900 Court St. NE, S-314
Salem, OR 97301
Phone: 503-986-1716
E-mail: sen.betsyjohnson@
Website: http//www.leg.state.or.
Representative Brad Witt
(Dem) House District. 31
21740 Lindberg Road,
Clatskanie, OR 97016
Phone: 503-728-4664
900 Court St. NE, H-373
Salem, OR 97301
Phone: 503-986-1431
Website: http//www.leg.state.or.
Representative Deborah
(Dem) House District 32
PO Box 926
Cannon Beach, OR 97110
Phone: 503-717-9182
900 Court St. NE, H-375
Salem, OR 97301
Phone: 503-986-1432
E-mail: rep.deborahboone@
Website: http//www.leg.state.or.
Page 3
NEWS: Protecting sources means protecting the public
Ed. note: Reporters must do a lot of digging in an effort to keep the pub-
lic informed. Oftentimes, neither public nor private entities want publicity
about certain activities. Big businesses often sue whistleblowers. Gov-
ernments have even more clout and reporters must sometimes be willing
to go to jail in order to protect their sources. Without people willing to keep
the public informed, governments may hide information simply to protect
the people involved, not in order to protect the nation. This column ex-
plains why a “shield” law is needed.
By Kevin Z. Smith
President, Society of Professional Journalists
During the course of its investigation into the current Gulf of
Mexico oil spill, The Associated Press was given information from
the then-office of Mineral Management Services that was not
making a lot of sense.
As millions of gallons of crude spewed into the gulf waters and
the oversight by MMS officials on BP’s well was being called into
question, an anonymous source in that office told reporters far dif-
ferent stories than what they had been initially told. This anony-
mous source set the record straight by coming forward and speak-
ing out, and suddenly the world knew that this was more than a
mechanical failure; it was a full system failure. The people hired to
keep these events from occurring were ignoring their responsibil-
At times, anonymous sources provide crucial information to the
press. Stories of oil disasters may be the latest, but without citi-
zens coming forward and sharing vital information, Americans
would not know about steroids in sports, excessive military spend-
ing, or food and drug hazards. We would never have been told
about Watergate.
A bill currently in the U.S. Senate will help assure such stories
continue to reach the public. S. 448, The Free Flow of Information
Act, will protect the sources on whom journalists rely from having
their identities exposed in all but a few circumstances including
where national security concerns are raised. Five years in the
making, the current version of this bill is supported by more than
50 journalism organizations, the White House, the Justice Depart-
ment and most of your Congressional delegation.
Most states have laws that can protect a source’s identity from
overzealous prosecutors and judges, but there is no such protec-
tion yet at the federal level. S. 448 would change that and extend
the same protections offered through statute or common law in 49
states to the national government. Without it, stories focusing on
the federal government will not be told because reporters are
faced with threats of jail time and fines if they do not turn on their
Subpoenas against the press numbered more than 3,000 na-
tionwide in 2006 with 335 issued by federal prosecutors seeking
the identities of news sources, according to a survey conducted
by a Brigham Young University law professor. More than a few
journalists have spent time in jail, and some have been forced out
of the profession all together by heavy fines that crippled them fi-
nancially. These are all heavy-handed tactics to illicit the names of
We are not afraid to entrust the American people
with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philoso-
phies, and competitive values. For a nation that is
afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood
in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its peo-
— John F. Kennedy
In any event, the proper question isn't what a jour-
nalist thinks is relevant but what his or her audience
thinks is relevant. Denying people information they
would find useful because you think they shouldn't
find it useful is censorship, not journalism.
— Michael Kinsley
people who can then be identified and retaliated against. Media
companies large and small faced with the enormous expenses of
fighting such legal battles to protect sources are turning their
backs on compelling stories.
As S. 448 awaits permission from key senate leadership to
come to the floor for a full vote, all senators, representing the in-
terests of American citizens, need to hear from their constituents.
Citizens who value the importance of transparency in governance
and think the American press needs to continue to serve as the
watchdog on the federal government should tell their senators to
support this measure.
The clock is ticking as Congress will recess in August. Tell your
senator to have the bill moved to a full Senate vote as soon as
possible and support its passage.
Without this bill, stories that affect lives, like the oil spill in the
Gulf, will never get the detailed attention they need to bring about
change. Without this bill, your government has a better chance of
operating in darkness or lying its way out of trouble. Help bring
this to an end by voicing support for S. 448.
Only when there is a free flow of information from the govern-
ment to its people can we truly appreciate the beauty and power
of a democracy.
Kevin Z. Smith is the 2009-2010 national president of the Society
of Professional Journalists. Reach him at For
more on SPJ’s work to improve and protect journalism, see
Well-deserved thanks
to another volunteer
To the Editor:
On the 4th of July opening of
the “Squeaky Wheels” skate
park, the Vernonia Lions Club
overlooked thanking one of the
most helpful and important
people of the building project.
The Lions Club would like to
give a big “Thank You!!” to Tom
Ramsey. Thanks for all your
hard work, effort and long
hours that you put into the proj-
ect. It is very much appreciat-
George Tice
Vernonia Lions Club
Policy on Letters
not publish letters with per-
sonal attacks on private citi-
zens. Preference will be giv-
en to brief letters, 300 words
or less.
All letters must be signed
and include a verifiable ad-
dress or phone number.
Ike Says
From page 2
refuges. Stream temperatures,
as many of us have feared, are
indeed limiting the production
of salmonids in the Nehalem
River water shed.
It is purely a fluke of nature
that we will be able to see ex-
tremes of both high and low
stream temperatures in back-
to-back years (last year, stream
temperatures exceeded 80 de-
grees locally). The evidence
will be compelling regarding
what is needed in the Nehalem
basin if we are to expand
salmonid production and the
resulting fisheries.
Many of you have probably
noticed the northwest winds
that have been blowing in July,
this also is adding to the good
fortunes of the salmon that are
in the ocean or about to enter it
as smolts. Reports are that
there is a good supply of bait-
fish and the adult salmon are
big and fat.
Hope everybody has a safe
and fun Jamboree. Don’t forget
to bring the kids down to the
fishing derby at Lake Vernonia
on Friday the 6th. Registration
is 4-5 pm and fishing is be-
tween 5-6 pm. Lots of prizes
Izaak Walton League,
Nehalem Valley Chapter
meets monthly on the 3rd
Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Call
503-429-7193 for location.