Society

Online Reporter Joe Hosey May Face Jail Time

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In a series of articles written for the Joliet, Ill. Patch.com website, Joe Hosey described a sordid double-murder that sounded like the worst kind of slasher-fiction. 

Eric Glover and Terrance Rankins, both 22, were found strangled in the home of Alisa Massaro, 19. Hosey’s articles detail both the murders, including the details that two of the suspects had sex on the corpses.

Though these details are shocking, none were more shocked by them than the investigating police officers. Why? Because these details were classified, listed only confidential reports. After their own investigation failed to reveal the leak, Hosey was ordered by Judge Gerald Kinney of Will County to turn over both the documents and the name of his source. Hosey has refused, even though he may face jail time.

“I know I am doing the right thing,” he told Fox News and said that he’s refusing to comply with the judge’s order “on principle.” Patch is standing by their reporter, and in an article written by Associate Editorial Director Dennis Robaugh it was revealed that their attorney has already filed an appeal of the ruling.

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Illinois has a “shield law” that exists to protect journalists from turning over confidential sources, even by court order. However, Judge Kinney ruled that the shield law doesn’t apply here. According to the text of the law, both Hosey and Patch.com meet the qualifications required for protection.

Hosey is not the only reporter whose work appears primarily online to face such charges. FoxNews.com’s Jana Winter was subpoenaed for an exclusive report regarding a notebook Aurora, Colorado shooter James Holmes sent to a psychiatrist. The common thread in both of these First Amendment challenges is that these reporters wrote for online outlets which could indicate a move to set different precedents for the journalism on the web.