In a meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder, executives from several news organizations said the attorney general pledged to change the way the Justice Department conducts investigations that involve reporters.
Government officials said they would work to change guidelines on issuing subpoenas in criminal investigations involving reporters and ensure searches that have raised concerns recently about freedom of the press are not repeated, the editors said.
The news executives made the comments Thursday after meeting with Holder and some of his aides.
The discussion took place following an outcry from news organizations over the Justice Department’s secret gathering of some Associated Press reporters’ phone records and some emails of a Fox News journalist.
Last week, President Barack Obama ordered a review of the Justice Department guidelines.
One of the news media participants, Marty Baron, executive editor of the Washington Post, said the news executives told the department officials that reporters were concerned about using their email and concerned about using their office telephones.
“It was a constructive meeting,” said Baron. “They expressed their commitment to the president’s statement that reporters would not be at legal risk for doing their jobs.”
Jerry Seib, Washington bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal, said that in addition to the commitment to change the guidelines, there also was a renewed commitment to support a federal shield law for journalists. Such laws in force in many states protect journalists from having to reveal confidential sources.
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