EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (CN) – People who post comments on a newspaper Web site are not protected news sources under Illinois’ shield law, a prosecutor told a Madison County judge. Madison County officials subpoenaed the Alton Telegraph newspaper to identify five people who posted comments about a murder investigation.
Lawyers for the newspaper have asked Associate Judge Richard Tognarelli to quash the subpoena, claiming the shield law protects news organizations from being forced to identify sources unless the information sought is critical and authorities have no other ways of getting it.
The Telegraph’s lawyers say authorities have not shown that they have exhausted all means to get the information.
The Web postings involve the beating death of 5-year-old Ethan Allen in September. Frank D. Price, 36, has been charged with first-degree murder. He is the boyfriend of Ethan’s mother, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Detective Sgt. Gary Burns testified that the posted comments showed possible knowledge of Price’s physical abuse of others, including children.