Jana Winter

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Jana Winter is an American reporter best known for being first to report that James Holmes had sent a notebook to his University of Colorado psychiatrist Lynn Fenton with details about his premeditated plan to kill people before he allegedly did so.[1] She joined The Intercept in 2014 and worked there through January 2016. Previously she had been a reporter from 2006 to 2008 for the New York Post, and from 2008 to 2014 for Fox News Channel.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

She grew up in New Jersey and attended Montclair High School, obtained an undergraduate degree from Emory University in 2002, and a masters in journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2006.[3]

LulzSec and "Sabu"[edit]

While at FoxNews.com, Winter wrote a series of articles exposing Hector Xavier Monsegur as the head of LulzSec,[4] revealing his months-long collaboration with the FBI,[5] and detailing the ultimate takedown by law enforcement officials of the hacker collective.[6] The articles drew worldwide attention.

Aurora shooting coverage[edit]

Among the stories Winter reported on was the 2012 Aurora shooting. She was the first to report,[7] on July 25, 2012, that shooter James Holmes had sent a notebook to his psychiatrist with details about his planning killings.[1] This caused Holmes' attorney, citing a gag order on law enforcement personnel on the case, to try to order her to reveal her sources, despite the existence of a shield law in Colorado.[8][9]

The possibility that Winter might be subpoenaed in the case first arose in December 2012, when Holmes' attorneys complained that the details about the notebook must have been leaked, and demanded sanctions against whoever leaked the information.[10] The prosecutors predicted that the defense's attempt to subpoena Winter would add extra delays to the case.[11]

Fox responded to a subpoena issued by Holmes' attorneys by the end of January 2013, stating that Winter would fight any attempts to reveal her sources.[12] Although the story was subject to ongoing press stories by the Associated Press and other news organizations,[13][14][15][16][17][18][19] widespread press attention to the story did not begin until early April 2013, causing some commentators, starting with Fox itself, to suggest the lack of press coverage may be due to Winter's employ by Fox and that the rest of the news media could be biased against it.[9]

At a hearing on April 1, 2013, a Colorado judge said he was reluctant to order Winter to testify and said another police detective needed to be questioned first. He ordered Winter to return to court on April 10.[20] On April 5, 2013, the National Press Club issued a statement asking the judge to abandon attempts to get Winter to reveal her sources.[21] On April 8, 2013, the judge announced he was deferring any ruling on the issue, as he has not decided yet whether the notebook (the only strand upon which Winter's testimony could be sought by the defense) will be admissible at trial.[22]

On January 31, 2014, the Gannett website colorodoan.com, in an online news release, stated that:

"Lawyers for the man accused of killing 12 people at a Colorado movie theater said Friday they will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to require a Fox News reporter to reveal the confidential sources she used in a story about defendant James Holmes. The defense wants reporter Jana Winter to identify the law enforcement officials who told her that Holmes sent a notebook containing violent images to his psychiatrist before the 2012 attack. Holmes’ lawyers say whoever spoke to Winter violated a gag order and should be punished. They also say that officers might have lied when they denied under oath being Winter’s sources, undermining their credibility as potential trial witnesses. New York state’s top court ruled in December that Winter did not have to testify in Colorado because she is protected by her home state’s shield law, which says reporters do not have to identify confidential sources. A Colorado court issued a subpoena for Winter’s testimony, but because she is based in New York, that state’s courts would have to enforce it. Winter has said she would not identify the sources, even though the Colorado court could sentence her to jail for contempt of court for refusing. Winter’s attorney, Dori Hanswirth, didn’t immediately return a call. Hanswirth previously expressed doubt that the Supreme Court would intervene."[23]

In May 27, 2014, the Supreme Court denied the appeal brought by Daniel Arshack, one of the lawyers for James Holmes, essentially blocking any effort to force Jana Winter to reveal her source in court.[24]


  1. ^ a b Free Press Fight, Fox News Channel, Retrieved 8 April 2013
  2. ^ http://www.mediaite.com/online/former-fox-news-reporter-jana-winter-joins-the-intercept/
  3. ^ http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2013/images/04/08/jana.winter.affidavit.pdf
  4. ^ Winter, Jana (June 6, 2012). "EXCLUSIVE: Unmasking the world's most wanted hacker". FoxNews.com.
  5. ^ Winter, Jana (June 6, 2012). "EXCLUSIVE: Inside LulzSec, a mastermind turns on his minions". FoxNews.com.
  6. ^ Winter, Jana (June 6, 2012). "EXCLUSIVE: Infamous international hacking group LulzSec brought down by own leader". FoxNews.com.
  7. ^ Winter, Jana (25 July 2012). EXCLUSIVE: Movie massacre suspect sent chilling notebook to psychiatrist before attack, Fox News
  8. ^ Cook, John (8 April 2013). Here Is a Fox News Reporter Who Doesn’t Belong In Jail Archived 2013-04-11 at the Wayback Machine, Gawker
  9. ^ a b Schwarz, Hunter (6 April 2013). A Fox News Reporter Could Be Jailed For Protecting Her Sources, And Nobody Seems To Care, BuzzFeed
  10. ^ (11 December 2012). Fox News Producer To Be Subpoenaed In Colorado Shooting Case, Mediabistro.com
  11. ^ Ingold, John. (10 December 2012). Holmes' attorneys plan to subpoena Fox News in theater shooting leak, Denver Post
  12. ^ (31 January 2013). Fox News reporter fights to protect source in story of notebook James Holmes sent to CU psychiatrist, KMGH-TV
  13. ^ Coscarelli, Joe (11 December 2012). Lawyers for James Holmes Want Fox News Reporter’s Notebook Source, New York Magazine
  14. ^ Ingold, John (18 January 2003). Judge in Aurora theater shooting case OKs effort to subpoena Fox News reporter, Denver Post
  15. ^ (12 March 2013). Fox News reporter Jana Winter subpoenaed in Colorado movie theater massacre case, Clarion Ledger (Associated Press story)
  16. ^ (18 March 2013). Jana Winter, Fox News Reporter, Fights Judge's Order To Testify About James Holmes' Notebook, Huffington Post (Associated Press story)
  17. ^ Coffman, Keith (19 March 2013). Journalist asks delay in Colorado shooting case to fight subpoena, Chicago Tribune (Reuters story)
  18. ^ Ingold, John (20 March 2013). Aurora theater shooting: Fox News reporter seeks more time to appeal, Denver Post
  19. ^ (1 April 2013). Jana Winter, Fox News Reporter, Could Be Forced To Testify In James Holmes Trial , Huffington Post (Associated Press story)
  20. ^ Tenser, Phil (1 April 2013). Judge wants 1 more Holmes' case detective questioned before ruling if Fox reporter must name sources, KMGH-TV
  21. ^ (5 April 2013). National Press Club calls for judge to drop case against Fox News reporter, Fox News
  22. ^ (8 April 2013). Colorado judge defers ruling on whether Fox News reporter must testify on sources, Fox News
  23. ^ http://www.coloradoan.com/viewart/20140131/NEWS11/301310105/Holmes-defense-take-reporter-Supreme-Court
  24. ^ Ingold, John. " Fox News reporter Jana Winter won’t have to testify about notebook in theater shooting case ", The Denver Post, 27 May 2014. Retrieved on 03 November 2014.