US reporter convicted for not revealing source

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Thursday, November 18, 2004

RHODE ISLAND — Television reporter Jim Taricani was convicted of criminal contempt Thursday for not revealing to authorities the source of a video that he had received and reported on. The video had been sealed to prevent the public from seeing it.

US District Court Judge Ernest Torres convicted Taricani, a reporter for WJAR-TV News in Providence, Rhode Island. The video in question showed the city's mayor, Vincent Cianci, taking a $1000 bribe. The official was subsequently convicted for corruption. During Cianci's trial, the court had ordered the video to be sealed. It was subsequently released to reporter Jim Taricani. Torres opined that the leak had been designed to prevent a fair trial and, as the video was sealed, the person who leaked it had broken the law.

Taricani's refusal to identify the leaker had been the basis for his conviction of civil contempt on March 16. A USD $1000 fine was to be issued every day until Taricani revealed his source. He has paid all fines, and was reimbursed by WJAR-TV News for all expenses. Torres suspended the fine, calling it ineffective.

Taricani defended his action, saying: "I made a promise to my source, which I intend to keep."

Prosecutions for not revealing sources are becoming an increasingly common occurrence. Eight journalists have been convicted in recent months. Speaking in an interview Wednesday, he said, "I'm proud to be a part of this effort with other reporters who are facing this same thing."

Sentencing is to take place December 9th. Torres has said Taricani will receive no more than six months due to ill health.