Free Press

'Terrible Time To Be a Journalist,' Says First Amendment Lawyer

Hostile scrutiny from the government makes it tough

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HONOLULU — Journalists should be worried, scared even.

"It is a terrible time to be a journalist," First Amendment lawyer Jeff Portnoy told several dozen Hawaii journalists Friday, during a Society of Professional Journalists awards dinner here.

Portnoy was referring to the Obama administration's secret subpoenas for journalists' phone and Internet records, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice's secret investigation into Associated Press and Fox News reporters "in the name of national security."

Portnoy received a First Amendment award for his work in trying to prevent Hawaii's five-year-old Journalism Shield law from expiring June 30. He and many others tried to preserve the law but failed because the Senate Judiciary Chair would not agree to the House version of the bill, which simply extended the current law two years.