Journalism professor to discuss sources

Journalism professor Robert Miraldi will describe why reporters are increasingly under pressure from the government to reveal their confidential sources of information and why some are actually being sent to jail when he gives a talk sponsored by the Honors Program on Sept. 19 at 5 p.m. in College Hall.

His talk, entitled, “Reporters, Sources and Jail,” is free and open to the public.

Miraldi, who worked for a decade as a reporter in New York City, will talk about his own experiences in trying to protect sources but will focus especially on the case of Judith Miller, a reporter for the New York Times who is currently in jail for refusing to cooperate with a federal investigation into her sources.

The government is trying to uncover who leaked the name of a CIA agent, which is a violation of federal law. When Miller refused to disclose her source, she was held in contempt of court and sent to jail. Miraldi believes the Bush Administration is increasingly trying such tactics as a way of harassing the press.

“Without public support and outrage and without an adequate federal law,” Miraldi says, “more reporters may have to go to jail before this problem is resolved.”

Miraldi has taught journalism at the college for 23 years. His 2002 book, The Pen is Mightier: The Muckraking Life of Charles Edward Russell, was named the best book in the country in journalism and mass media. He wrote a column of commentary on freedom of speech for the Poughkeepsie Journal for eight years.

His talk is the first of eight lectures this semester sponsored by the college’s Honors Program.