2020 Georgia Code
Title 24 - Evidence
Chapter 5 - Privileges
§ 24-5-508. Qualified Privilege for News Gathering or Dissemination

Universal Citation: GA Code § 24-5-508 (2020)

Any person, company, or other entity engaged in the gathering and dissemination of news for the public through any newspaper, book, magazine, radio or television broadcast, or electronic means shall have a qualified privilege against disclosure of any information, document, or item obtained or prepared in the gathering or dissemination of news in any proceeding where the one asserting the privilege is not a party, unless it is shown that this privilege has been waived or that what is sought:

  1. Is material and relevant;
  2. Cannot be reasonably obtained by alternative means; and
  3. Is necessary to the proper preparation or presentation of the case of a party seeking the information, document, or item.

(Code 1981, §24-5-508, enacted by Ga. L. 2011, p. 99, § 2/HB 24.)

Law reviews.

- For article, "Eleventh Circuit Survey: January 1, 2008 - December 31, 2008: Comment: 2009: A Blawg Odyssey: Exploring How the Legal Community Is Using Blogs and How Blogs are Changing the Legal Community," see 60 Mercer L. Rev. 1353 (2009). For comment, "The Reporter's Privilege in Georgia: 'Qualified' to Do the Job?," see 9 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 495 (1993).


Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, decisions under former O.C.G.A. § 24-9-30 are included in the annotations for this Code section.

Availability of information by alternative means.

- State sought information state could reasonably have obtained by alternative means when several questions sought the identity of law enforcement officers and jailers who may have had public contact with the reporter or served as a confidential source. In re Paul, 270 Ga. 680, 513 S.E.2d 219 (1999) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-9-30).

Materiality and relevance.

- State sought information that was not material or relevant when the state propounded interrogatories which inquired when and how the reporter found out that an attorney represented the defendant, whether the reporter advised the defendant of defendant's rights under Miranda or made promises to the defendant in exchange for the interview, whether the defendant referred to defendant's attorney during the interview, and why the reporter did not call the defendant's attorney to notify the attorney about the interview before the interview occurred and to inform the attorney about the interview after the interview took place. In re Paul, 270 Ga. 680, 513 S.E.2d 219 (1999) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-9-30).

Necessity of information for prosecution.

- State failed to show that the reporter's testimony was necessary for the state to prosecute the defendant for murder when, although the state contended that the state needed the reporter's testimony to prove the defendant's mental state at the time the defendant made the incriminating admissions to the reporter, the state had already presented evidence at pre-trial hearings of the defendant's mental capacity and demeanor when the defendant confessed to police; not only did the state have at least two confessions on videotape, where the jury could observe the defendant, but the state also presented expert testimony of a forensic psychiatrist at the Jackson-Denno hearing concerning the defendant's competency to stand trial and whether defendant was suffering from any mental illness or delusion. In re Paul, 270 Ga. 680, 513 S.E.2d 219 (1999) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-9-30).

Courtroom gossip or speculation.

- Former O.C.G.A. § 24-9-30 was not meant to be used to uncover the source of mere courtroom gossip or speculation. Nobles v. State, 201 Ga. App. 483, 411 S.E.2d 294, cert. denied, 201 Ga. App. 904, 411 S.E.2d 294 (1991) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-9-30).

Privilege properly invoked.

- Trial court did not err by allowing a reporter who declined to reveal "confidential sources" in the sheriff's department to invoke the privilege created by former O.C.G.A. § 24-9-30 since the evidence showed that there were fewer than a dozen former employees of the sheriff's office in the relevant time period, and that the defense team made no effort to contact any of the employees. Stripling v. State, 261 Ga. 1, 401 S.E.2d 500 (1991), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 985, 112 S. Ct. 593, 116 L. Ed. 2d 617 (1991) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-9-30).

Privilege not waived by partial disclosure.

- Reporter did not waive reporter's qualified privilege against disclosure of reporter's confidential sources and unpublished information by writing a news article based on the reporter's interview with the defendant; publication of part of the information gathered did not waive the privilege as to all of the information gathered on the same subject matter because it would chill the free flow of information to the public. In re Paul, 270 Ga. 680, 513 S.E.2d 219 (1999) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-9-30).


- Non-parties engaged in news gathering may file a direct appeal of an order denying the parties the statutory reporter's privilege under the collateral order exception to the final judgment rule. In re Paul, 270 Ga. 680, 513 S.E.2d 219 (1999) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-9-30).

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