Should terrorism trump access?

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The Annenberg Public Policy Center is getting government officials and
journalists together to talk about the impact of the Patriot Act and Homeland
Security Act on reporters' access to unclassified information.

The center cites the "extensive regime of nondisclosure agreements that will
be enforced by criminal and civil penalties" under the laws.

That, Annenberg said, could potentially make it harder to obtain unclassified
information on homeland-security issues than it currently is to get classified
documents.

Among those participating in the June 11 conference are representatives of
the National Security Council, Homeland Security Department and Defense
Department, as well as journalists including Nightline producer Tom
Bettag, Wolf Blitzer of Cable News Network and Barbara Cochran of the Radio-Television News
Directors Association.

Elsewhere on the access front, The Media Institute, a media-funded First
Amendment think tank, is releasing its latest annual report on press freedom.

The First Amendment and the Media-2003: Free Speech and Free Press Since
Sept. 11
contains a new section on access to information.

New government pressure on the First Amendment "caught the media off guard,"
said the Institute's Richard Kalar. "The challenge now facing government offices
is to respect freedom of speech and press while maintaining national
security."

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