Say “No” to Waivers  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  Letters
From AJR,   April/May 2006

Say “No” to Waivers   


As someone who has been jailed for contempt of court for refusing to cough up sources, albeit for only five days, I must agree with Bob Zelnick's take in your story ("Waivering," February/ March), "a request for a waiver [is] 'a functional betrayal of the source and the relationship, and I am disheartened to see how many of my colleagues have rushed to this little life preserver at the expense of their sources.'"

In my case, having done five days (the short-term result of judicial error) and facing another subpoena and an open-ended jailing, the idea of asking two men whose careers were on the line to let me wiggle free never dawned on me. The second subpoena was withdrawn, I think, because of the racket created on my behalf by a throng of professional groups, including Reporters Sans Frontières and SPJ. And most vital was the advocacy of Hofstra University and its journalism department's maven at the time, Bob Greene, in conferring on me the Francis Frost Wood Courage in Journalism Award. We never gave up our sources and never asked them to release us. But this is small-town journalism, not operating in the shadows of Machiavelli and Novak. Your piece is succinct, and I'll give it to our staff and interns.

Tim Crews
Sacramento Valley Mirror
Artois and Willows, California

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