U.S. Representative Greg Walden's office sent a letter out this week to all of the newspaper, radio and television stations in the Second District, noting that he has decided to co-sponsor HR 581, the Free Flow of Information Act.

Essentially, the FFIA would be a federal shield law protecting reporters from being forced to reveal confidential sources by the courts (Oregon already has a solid shield law). Considering that Walden has a degree in journalism, it's not surprising he signed on to this important legislation. Obviously, we think it's a good idea, and as a recent Street Beat question revealed, so do a number of our readers.

As journalists, we are taught from almost Day One that it's an exercise of good journalistic practice to use attributable sources in our articles, a principle we at the Chieftain wholeheartedly embrace. But there are those rare times when the use of a confidential source is necessary to provide the public with information about an event of tremendous importance it wouldn't know about any other way. This, too, is good journalistic practice. We can't think of anything right off hand that might happen here in Wallowa County that would meet that tough criterion, but it's better to have the protection just in case.

Walden closed his letter with a quote from Thomas Jefferson: "Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it." We applaud Walden for co-sponsoring this bipartisan legislation, which affirms a founding principle of our constitutional republic.

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