Time Inc.: When to Give Up a Source

In surrendering a reporter's notes, Time Inc.'s top editor says the rule of law trumps the promise of confidentiality. Where does journalism go from here?

For journalists, confidential sources can be as essential as ink. That's why so many were surprised last week when Norman Pearlstine, editor-in-chief of Time Inc., said he would reveal some confidential information about a big story. In a case involving TIME magazine White House correspondent Matthew Cooper, Pearlstine agreed to comply with a federal subpoena and surrender Cooper's notes and files relating to a story he had written that is part of an investigation into the disclosure of a CIA operative's identity. Time Inc. had appealed the case all the way to the Supreme Court, but when the court declined last...

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