Whistleblowers would have the right to remain anonymous, under legislation being introduced at the Capitol.
State Representative Joe Parisi (D-Madison) and state Senator Pat Kreitlow (D-Chippewa Falls) are co-sponsors of legislation that would protect the rights of journalists to not reveal sources and materials gathered while reporting. The bill creates guidelines for judges to use when trying to determine if a reporter should be compelled to expose a confidential source who helped them write about corruption or risks to public safety.
Parisi says anonymous sources can often be vital to uncovering illegal activity, and those individuals shouldn't have to fear being exposed. He says fewer people would be willing to come forward to talk to reporters if they were afraid of being found out and punished.
An appeals court decision from the 1990s does currently provide some protections, after a ruling found journalists have the right to keep sources a secret. But without it being written into law, Parisi says it's not strong enough. The Madison Democrat says it's just a court case away from being overturned.
Similar protections have been adopted in 37 other states.