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Judge says newspaper must disclose names of two people who posted story comments

May 18th, 2009 12:00 am by Staff Report

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that a judge has ruled that the Alton Telegraph must provide authorities with the identities of two people who put comments about a murder investigation on the newspaper's  website.

But Madison County Circuit Judge Richard Tognarelli, said the names of three others who posted comments need not be disclosed because what they wrote appears to be irrelevant.

The paper sued to quash subpoenas for the information, contending the identities of the five people were protected by an Illinois law shielding journalists from disclosing their sources.

Tognarelli wrote that the law "does not address the applicability of the Act to online bloggers." He said that is up to the Legislature.

Officials contended that posting comments on a newspaper website does not make someone a news source.

Missouri has no equivalent law.

Madison County sheriff's detectives obtained the subpoena Sept 18, seeking to question the five on information they posted regarding a news article about that month's fatal beating of Ethan Allen, 5, of Cottage Hills.

Frank D. Price, 36, the boyfriend of Ethan's mother, is charged with first-degree murder in the case.

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