Chicago Headline Club, SPJ condemn judge’s ruling against reporter

The Chicago Headline Club today condemned the contempt of court charges filed against AOL Patch reporter Joe Hosey by Will County Circuit Court Judge Gerald Kinney.

Kinney found Hosey in contempt for not revealing sources who provided him information related to the January stranglings of Eric Glover and Terrance Rankins.

In his ruling, Kinney told Hosey he has 180 days to disclose his sources.  It is possible that Hosey could face jail time if he does not reveal his sources.

“We are appalled, dismayed and angered by Judge Kinney’s decision,” said Fernando Diaz, president of the Chicago Headline Club.  “Kinney’s actions are unwarranted as Mr. Hosey was working within the ethical framework of professional journalism.”

Diaz said the Chicago Headline Club and its parent organization, the Society of Professional Journalists, remain unified in their undaunted support of Hosey.

“The SPJ code of ethics starts with ‘seek truth and report it,'” Diaz said, “and that’s exactly what Mr. Hosey has been doing. Kinney’s action does little more than keep information from the public.”

“This is clearly not an issue of a reporter accessing protected information. It’s a witch hunt to discover who leaked documents to Joey Hosey who is just doing his job as a reporter,” SPJ’s national FOI committee chair Linda Petersen said. “That Judge Kinney feels justified under the law is appalling. Illinois’ shield law clearly protects Joey Hosey in this situation and Kinney’s manipulative interpretation of that law is a farce.”

David Cuillier, president of SPJ, which represents 8,000 journalists nationwide, added that “the ruling is an affront to not just a free press but to citizens everywhere who want to know what is going on with their government.

 “This is outrageous and cannot be tolerated,” Cullier said. “I can’t believe an Illinois judge, or any American for that matter, would think it’s OK to imprison and bankrupt a person for doing his or her job well. That’s something I would expect in a third-world country, not here. SPJ will not stand by passively and let a judge trample over democracy. Neither should the people of Illinois.”

The Chicago Headline Club is the largest chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.