Conceptualizing and Reconceptualizing the Reporter’s Privilege in the Age of Wikileaks

March 1, 2014

The examination of the reporter’s privilege in light of WikiLeaks gives rise to several imperative questions. Could WikiLeaks claim a federal reporter’s privilege if the U.S. government were to ask it to disclose the sources of its documents? Does the current federal law on reporter’s privilege adequately address new media, such as WikiLeaks? And if not, how should the law evolve to sufficiently accommodate organizations like WikiLeaks?

This Note seeks to answer these questions. First, this Note advocates that WikiLeaks would be able to claim the privilege under current federal law. Second, this Note concludes that the current law on the reporter’s privilege has not sufficiently evolved to account for entities like WikiLeaks. Third, this Note discusses policy proposals to address the current shortcomings and ultimately advocates for a qualified privilege, the scope of which is determined by the source’s expectations, where the reporter presents the source’s expectations in court on behalf of the source.

March 2014

No. 4