JN204 Lecture Notes - Investigative Journalism, National Post

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8 Mar 2013
School
Department
Course
Journalism
October 2, 2012
Week 4, Tuesday
Journalists and their sources
identifying sources and the law
Courts, public inquiries and legislatures have the power to hold journalists in contempt of court for
reefusing to provide evidence including the names of their sources.
Generally, such bodies are hesitant to use such powers.
In libel suits, plaintiffs have the right to demand that journalists identify their sources so they
can be called to testify
Ontario's “Newspaper rules”: journalists can withhold sources' names during pre-trial phase of a
defamation case.
The McIntosh Case:
R v. National Post
In 2001, National Post reporter Andrew McIntosh received a business development bank of
canada loan authorization
It suggested Prime Minister Chretien stood to benefit from a $615,000 loan to the Grand-Mere
Inn in Shawinigan.
Bank officials said it was a forgery and called the RCMP
An ontario judge granted the RCMP a search warrant to seize the document and envelope for
DNA evidence to determine who sent it.
The documents arrived anonymously but McIntosh learned they had come from a confidential
source he had already promised to protect.
The post fought the warrant and in 2004 Justice Benotto quashed it
The was the first time in Canada a judge recognized that journalists havs a legal rights,
entrenched in the charter guarantee of freedom of the press, to protect the identities of their
sources in certain circumstances.
Justice Benotto: Not to protect sources and privilege employee confidentiality would be a
'licence for corporations, governments, and other employers to operate without accountability'.
Justice Benotto rejected blanket protections for journalists sources, arguing that journalists
shouls have to prove that their relationships must be protected.
She accepted McIntosh's arguments for protection as it passed the Wigmore Test
Wigmore: invented be american judge- to determine if correlation between two individuals
should be privileged.
McIntosh has promised to protects the identity of his source (Did someone offer to keep the info
confidential?)
That promise was crucial to their relationship and the source's willingness to provide
information.
It was in the public interest to foster this kind of confidential relationship.
Protecting the confidential relationship was more important than the potential benefits of
forcing the journalist to identify his source.
Benotto said because the original jugde (who administered the warrant) did not apply the
wigmore test, the seizure was ruled invalid and both the document and the sources identity were
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Document Summary

Journalists and their sources identifying sources and the law. Courts, public inquiries and legislatures have the power to hold journalists in contempt of court for reefusing to provide evidence including the names of their sources. Generally, such bodies are hesitant to use such powers. In libel suits, plaintiffs have the right to demand that journalists identify their sources so they can be called to testify: ontario"s newspaper rules : journalists can withhold sources" names during pre-trial phase of a defamation case. The mcintosh case: r v. national post. In 2001, national post reporter andrew mcintosh received a business development bank of canada loan authorization. It suggested prime minister chretien stood to benefit from a ,000 loan to the grand-mere. Justice benotto: not to protect sources and privilege employee confidentiality would be a. "licence for corporations, governments, and other employers to operate without accountability".

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