Journalist's Privilege Law and Legal Definition

Journalist's Privilege is a privilege provided by the constitutional or statutory law protecting a reporter from being compelled to testify about confidential information or sources. Many states in U.S by statutory law or judicial decision have given the journalists rights to protect their confidential sources from discovery. This is also referred to as reporter's privilege or newsman's privilege.

The United States Department of Justice has created self-imposed guidelines to protect the news media by regulating the use of subpoenas against the press. These guidelines state that "all reasonable attempts should be made to obtain information from alternative sources” before a subpoena is issued to a member of the news media.

However, the United States Supreme Court has in no uncertain terms rejected the existence of a First Amendment reporter's privilege. There is no First Amendment privilege protecting journalists from appearing before a grand jury or from testifying before a grand jury or otherwise providing evidence to a grand jury regardless of any confidence promised by the reporter to any source. [In re Grand Jury Subpoena (Miller), 397 F.3d 964, 970 (D.C. Cir. 2005)]

Journalist's Privilege also refers to a publisher's protection against defamation lawsuits when the publication makes fair comment on the actions of public officials in matters of public concern. In this sense it also termed editorial privilege.