Gov. Scott Signs Shield Law, Creating New Protections For Journalists

May 17, 2017

A new law signed by Gov. Phil Scott Wednesday creates a legal protection for information given to journalists by confidential sources or conversations that take place “off-the-record."

As a result, the identity of anonymous sources is out of reach of Vermont's legal system, even if those sources are government employees leaking privileged information.

Scott said he supports the law because it helps reporters preserve their independence.

“This protection enables sources, from whistleblowers to victims of a crime, to feel confident in their ability to speak freely with the press, ensuring accountability and giving the vulnerable a voice without fear,” Scott said just before signing the bill.

According to the Reporters Committee For Freedom of the Press, more than 30 states have similar protections in place, but the group would like to see expanded federal protections for journalists.

Scott signed the new protections into law just one day after The New York Times reported, citing anonymous sources, that President Donald Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to consider seeking imprisonment for journalists who publish classified information.

Disclosure: VPR News Director John Dillon participated in advocacy efforts related to this bill. Dillon was not involved in the reporting, editing or production of this story, with the exception of the photograph that he took at the bill signing.