Hearst Corp. general counsel Eve Burton, second from left, tells The New York Times that she has seen a staggering increase in newsgathering subpoenaes — from maybe four or five a year for all of Hearst’s publications and broadcast stations to 80 in the last 18 months. In a story printed today, the Times says, “Within the news business, there is a consensus that the roof is caving in on the legal protections for working journalists.” The story notes that Burton is preparing an appeal that will be filed Friday on behalf of Chronicle reporters Lance Williams, right, and Mark Fainaru-Wada, left, who face up to 18 months in jail for their refusal to reveal who leaked grand jury information in the Balco steroids case. The appeal hearing will be held on Feb. 12 and the pair faces longer prison terms than any of the actual Balco defendants. (Sept. 21 photo by Darryl Bush of the Chron. Also pictured is Editor Phil Bronstein.)

Four quotes from Burton tell the story:

    • “The government is apparently willing to spend three years and millions of dollars putting two reporters in jail.”

    • “The culture of the press as an independent body is now under attack and if this continues, will come to be seen as an investigative arm of the government.”

    • “My 15-year-old is constantly reminding me that no one cares about this stuff but reporters, but I don’t think the public understands what is at stake here … Everyone knows that what was revealed in that story about Major League Baseball and steroids was important, but I don’t think that they understand that they could lose that. That story could not be told today.”

    • “In terms of the public’s right to know what the government does and doesn’t do, it is huge. If the government wins in this case, every reporter’s notebook will be available to the government for the asking.”

SF Press Club News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>