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The First Amendment privilege is not limited to newspaper reporting. The press comprehends different kinds of publications which communicate to the public information and opinion. Cases recognize the presence of an underlying public interest in this communication and particularly in maintaining it free in the public interest.
Appellant documentary filmmaker, investigating the infamous death of Karen Silkwood, was deposed by appellee Kerr-McGee Corporation concerning that death and was asked to reveal his sources. Appellant, having promised anonymity, claimed First Amendment privilege and filed a motion for a protective order. The district court denied the motion as untimely filed. The district court went on to hold, however, that even if it had been timely filed, it would have been denied because of lack of merit. The judge conceded that it was not possible for him to conclude as a matter of law that there was no possibility that the information sought might be relevant and that appellant could not have prevailed even if his motion had been timely.
On appeal, the court held that the motion was not untimely filed and that the district court abused its discretion in denying it because it was reasonable to wait until after the case had been transferred to another venue before filing additional motions. Secondly, it was wrong for the district court to categorically deny "freedom of the press" to appellant solely because he was a filmmaker and not a regular reporter. The court held that the privilege had been applied to a broad range of media and publications by the courts that had announced various factors to consider as to whether the privilege attached. Unfortunately, no such inquiry into the facts and no such analysis had been performed by the district court, and the court had an insufficient record with which to make a final determination. Accordingly, the judgment of the district court was reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings.