Jana Winter is a journalist who reported valuable information about the Aurora shooter. Her source revealed that the shooter had sent letters to his psychiatrist prior to the shooting that mapped out his plan. This was confirmed to be true. But she’s currently facing legal trouble because she is keeping tight lips regarding who her source was and the judge isn’t happy about that.
My husband grew up in the Bible Belt with a Christian school principal for a dad, so naturally, he thought it his duty to tell his dad about every “curse word” he heard and every shove on the playground. Similarly, I was a perfectionist who thought that doing right meant upholding the law. If one of my 2nd grade classmates was talking during a no-talk-lunch, I’d make sure that information got to my teacher as quickly as possible. Maybe that’s why we get along so well. I don’t tell you that with pride. Rather, I tell you that with a little embarassment. Being a “tattle” is just not cool. However, if you take the concept into adulthood, how do you feel about snitches like Edward Snowden? It seems that opinions are divided.
Many think he’s a hero for exposing the government’s practice of violating our constitutional rights. Others think he’s a traitor. But, I’d like to think that most Americans would like to be informed of crimes committed that affect their lives – whether or not they agree with how the information came out.
My point being, we want information. We want to know what’s happening in the world and in our country and our cities and our friend circles and our famlies. We want to know how we are affected.
So, yeah. It’s a real shame that journalists like Fox News Reporter, Jana Winter, is in the midst of a trial because she wouldn’t reveal her source to a judge. It’s not like Winter was conspiring with the Aurora shooter. She was exposing relevant and confirmed information about him. She was doing her job and doing it with integrity by keeping her source private.
Some might say that when it concerns the law or the safety of others, confidentialty goes out the window, and you should break the trust you’ve made with the people who gave you the information. But, if you’re someone who feels that way, think of it in the way that it affects you.
Fox News contributer, Julie Roginsky mapped out the ramifications we’ll see if judges start compelling reporters to go against their word and reveal anonymous sources. She said:
“If I think that judges are going to, all of a sudden, start compelling reporters to tell people,to tell the public, who their sources are, even to tell the judges who the sources are, it is going to be chilling for the information we as the public are going to get because people are going to clam up, they are simply not going to share information and that has ramifications above and beyond just Jana Winter who I’m sorry is going through this. Or, Judy Miller – it has ramifications for the entire country, for the entire world, who relies on information to go public.”
When you think of it that way, making note of the fact that information saves lives, this is a pretty crappy situation.
I look back on the old me and I see both sides of the coin. It is admirable to uphold the law and expose lawbreakers (no-talk-lunch violaters and movie theater shooters alike), but at the same time, you need to be a trustworthy enough person to zip your trap when someone asks you to.
Think of it in terms of friendship. Let’s say your closest friend tells you something important but asks that you don’t reveal who they are. You shake on it and agree – you make a verbal promise. So, to against your word would be wrong.
Jana Winter is being punished for nothing. She’s being punished for being a stand-up journalist. An honorable person. She’s not withholding information she found. She is doing her job.
Who do you side with in this case? Winter or the judge?