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Press Release

Attorney General Holder Announces Updates to Justice Department Media Guidelines

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

WASHINGTON –Attorney General Eric Holder announced today expanded revisions to the Justice Department’s policy regarding obtaining information from, or records of, members of the news media.

The updated policy was announced via a memo by Attorney General Holder to all Justice Department employees.

“These revised guidelines strike an appropriate balance between law enforcement’s need to protect the American people, and the news media’s role in ensuring the free flow of information,” Attorney General Holder said.  “This updated policy is in part the result of the good-faith dialogue the department has engaged in with news industry representatives over the last several months.  These discussions have been very constructive and I am grateful to the members of the media who have worked with us throughout this process.”

Attorney General Holder first ordered a review of the department’s media guidelines in 2013.  He then announced initial revisions to those guidelines in February of last year.  The latest revisions arose following comments from federal prosecutors and other interested parties, including news media representatives.  These meetings with news media representatives included the inaugural convening of the Attorney General’s News Media Dialogue Group in May 2014.

Among the new revisions announced today, the Attorney General has directed that the guidelines eliminate the use of the word “ordinary” when describing newsgathering activities affected by the policy.  The revisions also serve to expand high-level review by the Attorney General for the use of certain law enforcement tools, such as subpoenas and applications for warrants, where the information sought from a member of the news media relates to newsgathering activities.

The updates announced today will revise existing department regulations, and the U.S. Attorney’s Manual will be updated to reflect the changes and provide further guidance to prosecutors as well.

A copy of the Attorney General’s memorandum accompanying the revised guidelines is attached.

Updated January 14, 2015

Press Release Number: 15-043