FOX News reporter Jana Winter says her news ability to collaborate and report on important topics was severe impacted by a subpoena ordering her to testify against anonymous sources in one of her stories two years ago.
In a letter submitted to the Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Winter wrote that she was personally harassed during the 12-month long legal battle between herself and attorneys for James Holmes, who wanted the journalist to be legally forced to testify against unnamed sources she used for a story concerning a notebook sent to a psychiatrist before a mass shooting in April 2012.
“No journalist should have to go through what I did, simply for doing his or her job and working to protect the public’s right to know,” Winter wrote, adding that her news gathering efforts on stories were “brought to a halt” because of the order to testify.
“Dozens of individuals across the country who had previously worked with me to provide essential information on critical issues of public concern were suddenly unwilling to return my calls,” Winter wrote. “Several of them specifically cited the proceedings against me in Colorado as the reason they no longer felt comfortable speaking to me…as a direct consequence, reports that I had been pursuing on issues of national security, terrorism, and government corruption never saw the light of day, and the public went uninformed.”
Winter, who is from New York, was successful in persuading a court in her home state to quash the Colorado order compelling her to testify in the case. The state has a tougher journalism shield law than Colorado, where journalists can be compelled to testify against anonymous sources if prosecutors are successful in arguing that they are complicit in violating a court’s gag order.
Winter wrote her letter, published by Fox News on Tuesday, in support of Colorado Senator Bernard Herpin’s bill that would strengthen the state’s journalism shield law, something she says would mean “that no one else will ever have to endure the hardships I lived through over the last year.”
“Senator Herpin’s proposal to strengthen (the shield la) is an essential step toward remedying the significant disparity in protections that are offered to Colorado journalists and their sources, as compared to states like New York,” Winter wrote. “It gives absolute protection for confidential sources and provides much-needed clarity to the protection available for nonconfidential news information.”
Holmes, the subject of Winter’s July 2012 news story, is on trial for the murder of 12 people and injuring 70 others in a mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater. Holmes’ attorneys have claimed the shooting was the result of a “psychotic episode.”
Document: Jana Winter’s statement to Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee
The Desk: FOX reporter won’t have to testify in Colorado, court orders