Confidentiality in brief

School asks student journalists to sign confidentiality agreementOKLAHOMA -- In what a school official has called a ''breakdown of communication,'' student journalists were told July 20 that they would not receive their paychecks if they refused to sign a confidentiality agreement that prohibited the disclosure of certain university information.Copies of the agreement were sent to the office of The Daily O'Collegian, the student newspaper at Oklahoma State University. Among other things, the document required that the students agree ''not to access or view any information other than what is required to perform [their] specified responsibilities'' and ''not to make inquiries about any individual for any person or party who does not have proper authorization to access such information.'' ''The way this agreement is worded, it's so vague that the things they are specifically trying to protect are materials that student journalists wouldn't go after, such as social security numbers, or it's information that's already protected under the state open meetings and open records acts, like employment records, budgets, things of that nature,'' said Editor in Chief Lenzy Krehbiel, who told the staff not to sign the document. ''The way it's worded, it makes it almost impossible for one of our reporters to do his or her job.''University Director of Communications Gary Shutt said the students were inadvertently given a copy of an old confidentiality agreement written earlier this year after a school laptop computer that contained some sensitive student information was stolen.Shutt said a committee is drafting a new version of the agreement because some faculty voiced concerns that the original was too ''punitive.'' He said the committee has not yet decided if student journalists will be asked to sign it. State shield law includes student journalists, representative saysCONNECTICUT -- Connecticut became the 32nd state to enact a reporters' shield law in June, and the law's author says it would include student journalists.The bill, which will allow reporters to protect the identities of their confidential sources, was signed into law June 6. Rep. James Spallone, D-Essex, the author of the ''Act Concerning Freedom of the Press,'' said that although it does not mention student journalists specifically, the language of the law is broad enough to include them.''I would say that students are covered because a student would be an

Fall 2006, reports