Lamenting an erosion of constitutional protections for the news media, a Houston judge blocked the Harris County District Attorney’s Office from making a TV station turn over video footage from a news report that was never aired, the Houston Chronicle reports. State District Judge Mark Kent Ellis did order KPRC (Channel 2) to hand over video related to two other reports that were broadcast, including unaired footage.
Some media experts expressed concern that a judge was asked to determine what a news organization had to reveal to law enforcement, saying the media’s ability to operate as a government watchdog could be threatened. “Citizens should be very nervous anytime that courts are ordering news organizations to hand anything over,” said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism. The District Attorney subpoenaed KPRC for videotapes connected to two investigative reports. One was a broadcast segment about a man who offered dogs on consignment; the other was unaired, unedited video about possibly predatory home loans.