Journalist ruled to be in 'minor direct criminal contempt'

It is open season on US journalists and their sources nowadays. An Illinois judge has fined a news website $300 a day because its editor refuses to reveal his sources.

Joseph Hosey, who edits the hyperlocal news site Orland Park Patch, has been ordered to pay a fine of $1,000, costs and $300 per day from 29 August up to 180 days. After that period, he faces jail.

The judge ruled that Hosey was in "minor direct criminal contempt" for not giving up the police reports he obtained about the circumstances of a double murder in January 2013 (see here) and revealing the source of those documents.

Hosey's lawyer, Kenneth Schmetterer, immediately announced an appeal and the fines were stayed pending that appeal.

Schmetterer said after the hearing: "Illinois courts have upheld the shield law to protect reporters precisely from having to divulge confidential sources because of the chilling effect it can have on the important work reporters can do.

"That's a principle that's established and recognised by appellate courts and the Illinois supreme court by the statute, and that's why we're going to vigorously press forward with our appeal."

Orland Park Patch is part of the Patch Media network of news sites across 23 US states. It is owned by AOL.

Sources: Orland Park Patch Hat tip: TechDirt © Guardian News and Media 2013