Attorney General Eric Holder told news editors in a private meeting yesterday that he is committed to changing Justice Department guidelines on investigations involving journalists in light of controversies over the seizure of reporters’ phone and email records, the Wall Street Journal reports. Holder and aides said they were open to changing the guidelines the department uses to broaden the circle of officials who have to agree that subpoenas are justified as a last resort. Officials also said they were open to annual reviews with news organizations.
Those in attendance meeting included editors from The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the New York Daily News, Politico and the New Yorker. The Justice officials said further discussions would be held with other editors, reporters, media attorneys, and academics. President Obama has given Holder until July 12 to present a review of guidelines for investigating reporters. Journalists at the meeting complained that the department’s subpoenas in recent cases were too far-reaching and had the potential to have a chilling effect on news gathering. Obama said last week he was concerned that “leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable.”