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US attorney general Eric Holder told journalists on Thursday that he would change the way the Justice Department handles investigations that involve reporters and not repeat searches that have raised concerns about freedom of the press, the editors said.

After a meeting that other media outlets boycotted because of its secrecy, the journalists who did attend said they were encouraged by officials’ expressions of regret, though one said the Justice Department still has a long way to go to understand how journalists work.

“There was a commitment to change the department’s guidelines for handling cases such as these and a renewed commitment to support a federal shield law for journalists,” said Gerald Seib, Washington bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal.

Despite the meeting’s status as “off the record,” meaning its contents could not be recorded or reported, three of the five journalists who attended spoke afterward to reporters outside the Justice Department’s headquarters.

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