People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals v. Winograd (California Superior Court, Alameda County, RG18907174)

The protection afforded mainstream reporters and news organizations against revealing confidential sources extends to bloggers, advocates and non-traditional publishers.  

So ruled a California Superior Court when it decided that the state’s Shield Law and Reporter’s Privilege protected animal rights blogger Nathan Winograd from being compelled to disclose the identities of his sources.  People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sought to force the revelation in connection with litigation pending in Virginia. [Order]

The Press Freedom Defense Fund provided Winograd a grant for his legal costs.

In its ruling, the Court declined “to parse whether publishers were engaged in “legitimate journalism” or advocacy journalism.  Instead the Court recognized that the shield law was intended to protect those who gather and disseminate information.  It ruled that PETA had “not provided a reasoned basis for distinguishing Winograd’s newsgathering activities from the journalism activities the shield law is intended to protect.”

Winograd was represented by Joshua Koltun, a San Francisco based media lawyer with long experience in defending those who assert the right to speak anonymously.

Attached are the motions and responses in this case. [PETA argument; Winograd defense]. For more information on applying for a grant to defend important journalism,  please visit  


First Look Media’s Press Freedom Defense Fund supports journalists, filmmakers, whistleblowers and news organizations pursuing legal fights where a substantial public interest, freedom of the press, or related human and civil rights are at stake. Grants under this program are used to fund challenges to policies or actions that restrict press freedom and obstruct access to essential information in the United States and around the world.

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