Code of the District of Columbia

Chapter 47. Free Flow of Information.


§ 16–4701. Definitions.

For the purpose of this chapter, the term “news media” means:

(1) Newspapers;

(2) Magazines;

(3) Journals;

(4) Press associations;

(5) News agencies;

(6) Wire services;

(7) Radio;

(8) Television; or

(9) Any printed, photographic, mechanical, or electronic means of disseminating news and information to the public.


(Sept. 26, 1992, D.C. Law 9-156, § 2, 39 DCR 5682.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 16-4701.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 2-575.


§ 16–4702. Compelled disclosure prohibited.

Except as provided in section 16-4703 , no judicial, legislative, administrative, or other body with the power to issue a subpoena shall compel any person who is or has been employed by the news media in a news gathering or news disseminating capacity to disclose:

(1) The source of any news or information procured by the person while employed by the news media and acting in an official news gathering capacity, whether or not the source has been promised confidentiality; or

(2) Any news or information procured by the person while employed by the news media in the course of pursuing professional activities that is not itself communicated in the news media, including any:

(A) Notes;

(B) Outtakes;

(C) Photographs or photographic negatives;

(D) Video or sound tapes;

(E) Film; or

(F) Other data, irrespective of its nature, not itself communicated in the news media.


(Sept. 26, 1992, D.C. Law 9-156, § 2, 39 DCR 5682; July 25, 1995, D.C. Law 11-30, § 4, 42 DCR 1547.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 16-4702.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-4703 and § 16-4704.


§ 16–4703. Compelled disclosure permitted.

(a) A court may compel disclosure of news or information otherwise protected from disclosure under section 16-4702(2) if the court finds that the party seeking the news or information established by clear and convincing evidence that:

(1) The news or information is relevant to a significant legal issue before a judicial, legislative, administrative, or other body that has the power to issue a subpoena;

(2) The news or information could not, with due diligence, be obtained by any alternative means; and

(3) There is an overriding public interest in the disclosure.

(b) A court may not compel disclosure of the source of any information protected under section 16-4702.


(Sept. 26, 1992, D.C. Law 9-156, § 2, 39 DCR 5682.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 16-4703.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-4702.


§ 16–4704. Activities not constituting a waiver.

The publication by the news media or the dissemination by a person employed by the news media of a source of news or information, or a portion of the news or information, procured while pursuing professional activities shall not constitute a waiver of the protection from compelled disclosure that is contained in section 16-4702 .


(Sept. 26, 1992, D.C. Law 9-156, § 2, 39 DCR 5682.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 16-4704.