Just last week a judge had ordered former USA Today reporter Toni Locy to pay hefty fines – out of her own pocket – for not identifying confidential sources in her 2003 anthrax attack coverage.
The fines were set to rise from $500 to $5000 a day until she revealed her sources and prohibited her former employers or friends to step in and help. An appeals court this week temporarily suspended the fines, but it has prompted multiple media companies and news associations to urge Congress to pass a federal shield law that would protect journalists.
If the appeal fails, the district court judge could reinstate the fines. As the LAT wrote, journalists shouldn’t face financial ruin or spend time in jail for doing their job.