What you need to know about laws relating to Journalist interviewing politicianjournalists in California

1. Free Speech

2. Shield Laws

Journalists in California are protected from having to reveal their sources in certain circumstances.1CA Constitution

3. Defamation

Defamation is publishing or saying false things that harm a person’s reputation. It can be either spoken (called slander) or written (called libel). If you say or write true things about someone, that person cannot sued you for defamation. If you say or write false things about someone and that someone is a “public figure,” the public figure can only sue you for defamation if you knew information was false and intended to harm that person’s reputation.2NYT v Sullivan

But here is a recent example of a reporter and magazine that were found liable for defamation.

4. Privacy

5. Copyright

6. Obtaining information from the government

You have the right to obtain access to public records held by federal agencies, with some exceptions including national security related information.3Freedom of Information Act of 1966 Such a request is called a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, named after the law that makes it possible. You can find out more about FOIA requests here.

You can also obtain public records held by state agencies or cities in California, with some exceptions. The government must provide records you request within 10 days.4California Public Records Act starting at Government Code Sec 6250, particularly 6253.

You also have the right to attend any meeting of any “state body” or “legislative body of a local agency,” with some exceptions.5Bagley-Keene Act and Brown Act See more at Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

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