A Victory For Free Speech

A journalists most important tool is their contacts book. Good journalists will fill theirs with the names, phone numbers and email addresses from everyone they meet no matter how trivial the person’s job title may be.

Some of these contacts will become trusted sources for the journalist who can pass them vital information they may need to complete a story. The bond between the journalist and the source relies heavily on trust from both sides as the journalist must be sure the information they are gaining is accurate and the source needs the assurance that they will stay anonymous as it could jeopardise their job or even freedom if their name is revealed.

This trust was threaten earlier this month when police tried to force a Guardian journalist to reveal her source for a story she wrote on the News of The World Milly Dowler phone hacking case.

The Metropolitan Police had planned to use a production order on Friday, September 23 that would force Guardian  reporter Amelia Hill to reveal the source who gave her information that implicated The News of The World in the phone hacking scandal.

The order has since been dropped after it sparked outrage in the media community due to the invasion of privacy it would entail.


Guardian editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, welcomed the decision to drop the court order but expressed his anger at it being used to threaten journalists calling it a “sinister new device to get round the protection of journalists’ confidential sources.”

If journalist could not keep their sources a secret then stories like the NOTW phone hacking scandal may never have seen the light of day.

People would be less likely to come forward if the security of anonymity was no longer in place.

Hungary is facing expulsion from the European Union for new media laws it has implemented. The laws will give the government the power to serve penalties to private media groups who print or broadcast any news with an anti-government slant.

Any decisions made allow the government to hold a tight grip on the press will completely demolish free media.

Journalists can not live in fear of fines or imprisonment for exposing the truth about those in power. This ethical debate has been taken to the courts to decide how privacy laws will apply to the private lives of politicians, celebrities and the average right-minded person in the street.

It will look at the difference in severity between hacking the phone of a B list celeb and the father of a murdered teenager. If there is any.


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