Blogs » Your Advocate: an editor's blog » Support your right to know and the ability of journalists to find out for you

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Journalists must build trust with their sources to get the tough stories, the ones that help our democracy work.

That's why Texas needs to join the other 36 states and the District of Columbia that have laws protecting the confidentiality of sources who provide information to journalists. Another effort to pass such a law will be heard by this session of the Texas Legislature.

This legislation is the top priority of the Texas Press Association and Texas Daily Newspaper Association's Legislative Advisory Committee. As a new member of the committee, I am receiving quite an education about the press' attempts to track all of the bills that could affect the public's right to know. At our last meeting, we went through a stack of bills about two inches thick. I encourage you to stay informed through the press association's legislative Web site.

Another important site is the Texas Free Flow of Information Act site set up to educate lawmaker and the public. On the site, the Texas Freedom of Information Foundation has gathered examples of subpoena abuses, including several that cost the Victoria Advocate thousands of dollars in the past year.

You'll find another local example of the watchdog role journalists play on the front page of Wednesday's Advocate. Reporter David Tewes received a tip that the city had been dumping plastic into the landfill rather than recycling it as residents intended. Such information about government wrongdoing often comes from an inside source. Imagine if journalists received a subpoena for every tip they received. How much of a chilling effect would that have on whistleblowers?

The Texas Free Flow of Information Act is about protecting the public's right to know. I hope you'll encourage your legislators to support it.