Greater protection for journalists

Journalists seeking to shield their sources will have greater protection under new laws which have now passed State Parliament.

Under the laws, a journalist will have clear legal protection when they refuse to disclose a source or information that may lead to the identification of a source.

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said the laws reflected the Marshall Government’s ongoing commitment to greater transparency and accountability.

“A journalist’s ability to protect their sources is one of the hallmarks of a free and independent press and will improve the functioning of our democracy,” Ms Chapman said.

“Under these laws, journalists will not incur a civil or criminal liability for failing or refusing to answer questions that could reveal a source.”

“A journalist would only be legally required to reveal a source if a court determined there was an overriding public interest.

“I have no doubt it would be rare for the public interest to override the journalists need to protect their source.”

The court would need to be satisfied that, in the circumstances of a particular case, the public interest in the source’s identity outweighs any of the following factors:

  • the potential adverse effect on the source if their identity is disclosed, or the possible adverse effect on others
  • the impact the disclosure could have on the media’s ability to communicate relevant news in the public interest
  • the potential deterrent to other sources