You simply cannot....
....have your cake and eat it too, yet that's exactly what the Wall Street Journal wants. There's so many problems with this article I hardly know where to begin. First of all, there is no First Amendment protection that permits a reporter to conceal evidence of a crime. There simply isn't, all press protestations about source confidentiality to the contrary.
Second, you cannot know if a crime has been committed until you have a jury trial. That requires that you first get an indictment. To do that you must have witnesses who testify before the grand jury in order to make a determination if the evidence even warrants a trial. (My wife has served on a federal grand jury and I have served on several juries, so I have some familiarity with the process.)
But the latter part of this article is laughable.
Some of our media friends are also pushing a federal shield law, and one has been introduced in the House and Senate. A large question, however, is who will be shielded. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press wants to protect not just reporters from established news organizations but everyone who writes anything, which means that almost anyone with a laptop and a Web site could claim to be protected from having to provide grand jury testimony. This Congress will never pass such an expansive shield, and we aren't sure it should.Obviously the Journal wants protection for their reporters while excluding bloggers. They should be condemned for their elitist attitude, of course, but they should be laughed out of the room for their ignorance of the law.
If the Supreme Court were to find that there were such a thing as a protected class of "journalists", they are not going to restrict it to "professional" journalists because that is an undefineable class. How do you define "paid" or "compensation" in a way that excludes all bloggers, for example? (Maybe Patterico or Beldar can show me the error of my ways, but I think I'm right about this.)
More to the point, however, the Journal admits that they aren't sure that some writers should be protected by a "shield" law. Their standard for who should be excluded? Who they think should be. The law doesn't make those sorts of distinctions. The law attempts to be impartial by creating classes or groups who are either exempt, protected or responsible under an act.
Personally, I think the Supreme Court won't even bother to hear the case. The journalists are wrong. The Appeals Court has told them so. The Supreme Court will simply affirm the case by denying the Writ of Certiorari.
There are no "interesting issues" here. The reporters are wrong, and the sooner they realize that, the better.