cover image Shield the Source

Shield the Source

Brian Karem. New Horizon Press, $21.95 (200pp) ISBN 978-0-88282-104-7

On March 27, 1989, in San Antonio, Tex., two Hispanic brothers, Julian and Henry Hernandez, both with criminal records and both drunk at the time, became involved in an altercation with white police officer Gary Williams, a heavy drug user who, according to the evidence, was high on drugs that night. Williams was shot with his own gun and died the next day; shortly thereafter the brothers surrendered to police. Karem, a local TV reporter, unofficially arranged a telephone interview with Henry Hernandez in jail, a conversation in which the prisoner said he had killed Williams in self-defense. The courts demanded Karem's notes to determine who had helped set up the interview; he declined to provide them and so was sent to jail for six months. Eventually all Karem's sources were uncovered by others and he was freed. The Hernandez brothers are still in jail awaiting trail. The case itself is uninteresting (except as an instance of discrimination), but journalists will applaud Karem's stand for the principle that reporters should not be compelled to reveal confidential sources. (July)