The New York Times gave some overdue attention to the adoption by several states of “ag-gag” laws that criminalize the videotaping or photographing of animal “husbandry” practices on industrial farms.  These laws have been enacted in Iowa, Utah, and Missouri.  They are being considered in Indiana, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and California.  The most notorious farm animal abuse scandals in the recent past have been exposed by undercover reporters or workers releasing video of what they have seen:  downed cows dragged to their deaths, baby pigs fatally hurled on concrete floors, captive horses beaten, etc.   The ag-gag laws criminalize the capture of these images even in the absence of trespass or any other common law offense.  In some cases, photographing from outside the premises is also criminalized.  PETA and other animal rights/welfare groups have been opposing these laws, even roping conservatives into the fight.  Mary Matlin, for example, appears in a PETA video.  The Times has been following the adoption of these laws, for example in Mark Bittman’s 2011 Banned from the Barn op-ed.   The basic strategy of the laws is to classify journalists, activists and whistle-blowers as terrorists and to equate the economic damage that their revelations may cause with physical damage that militant action can cause.  What the media coverage does not say is that these laws are almost certainly unconstitutional under the newsgathering standards established in Cohen v. Cowles Media Co.    For a nice student piece on this point, see the award-winning 2012 piece of Lewis Bollard (Yale ’13).   In the efforts to safeguard whistleblowers, fighting these ag-gag laws has to be front and center.