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Importance of Branzburg v. Hayes, Confidentiality

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Branzburg v. Hayes, Confidentiality, and Shield Laws
- What did the court decide in Branzburg v. Hayes regarding a journalist's right to withhold confidential sources?
- How have lower courts interpreted the Branzburg v. Hayes decision based on whether the cases involved civil, criminal, or grand jury proceedings?

Confidentiality
- Summarize the approach journalists should take pertaining to promising confidentiality to sources.
- What advice should journalists give to sources who demand confidentiality?

Shield laws
- What protections do shield laws provide, if any, in addition to federal constitutional protections supporting nondisclosure of news sources?

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Solution Summary

The importance of Branzburg v. Hayes is discussed within this response and how it applies to Confidentiality wherein the academic expert provides a brief summary of the approach journalists should take in reference to promising confidentiality to their sources as well as the advice they should give to their sources who insist or demand upon confidentiality. A discussion about Shield laws is also given within the context of if these laws provide any protection.

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- What did the court decide in Branzburg v. Hayes regarding a journalist's right to withhold confidential sources?

In the case Branzburg v. Hayes the Court decided on the application of privilege and confidentiality regarding a journalist's capability to shield information retrieved from a source weighing the efficacy of the confidentiality in comparison to the public health or safety. If the average citizen is compelled to divulge confidential information when summoned before a grand jury as in this case the Court surmised that reporters were not exempt from this disclosure. Therefore, when summoned before a grand jury, the Court decided that journalistic privilege to withhold confidential sources is not absolute using the litmus test to ascertain the threat to public order or safety when determining if the information must be disclosed. In addition the requirement of the citizenry to divulge information was taken into account when rendering the decision against Branzburg (OYEC, 2012).

- How have lower courts interpreted the ...

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