Speed Reads

freedom of the press?

The DOJ is reportedly working to make it easier to subpoena journalists' records

The Department of Justice is revising its guidelines for how prosecutors can compel journalists to share information, The Hill's John Solomon reported Monday, citing multiple unnamed sources familiar with the rule revision plans.

The changes have been overseen by the office of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and have not yet been approved by Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker or his predecessor, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Under current guidelines, which date to the 1990s, prosecutors typically must seek journalists' records only as a matter of last resort, even when investigating leaks. News organizations are also notified before a subpoena is issued to allow for a period of negotiation.

The changes in process have two primary goals, The Hill's story says: "The first is to lower the threshold that prosecutors must meet before requesting subpoenas for journalists' records; the second is to eliminate the need to alert a media organization that Justice intends to issue a subpoena." Supporters of such a revision say it is necessary to speed criminal leak investigations; opponents like Solomon argue it will harm media freedom and force journalists to "face intrusions on their reporting for convenience rather than necessity."