Using U.S. Press Freedom Tracker incidents or number counts in an article or paper? We’re happy to answer questions about methodology and guide you through the database so you get the most accurate information for your needs. Email: [email protected]
Journalists arrested and taken into custody and/or charged with a crime. Journalists who are still facing charges as of August 2, 2017 are included in this category even if the charges were filed in a previous year.
Journalists stopped at the border and subjected to prolonged, invasive questioning or who have their electronic devices searched or are asked to provide passwords. We count border stops even if we are unable to draw a direct connection between the stop and the journalist’s work activities, because the resistance of U.S. authorities to provide information makes it extremely difficult to identify the motive and because invasive questioning or device searches could jeopardize source confidentiality no matter the motive. Not every stop at the border is a press freedom violation, but we believe it is essential to capture patterns related to these stops. This category also includes cases where journalists are prevented from entering the country if it appears that their inability to enter the country is related to their work.
Subpoenas or legal orders requiring journalists to testify in court or produce journalistic records or work product. This category also includes orders targeted at third parties who have access to journalistic records or work product. Because many subpoenas are not publicly reported and legal orders for journalist records are conducted with high levels of secrecy, the numbers in this category are likely to underestimate actual cases.
Government employees or contractors investigated or prosecuted for disclosing information to journalists or media platforms. This category does not include leak cases where information was not leaked to the media.
Journalists’ equipment searched or seized by law enforcement in the course of their work.
Journalists who face physical violence, either as the result of a targeted attack by a public or private individual or in the course of their work. If a journalist is hit by rubber bullets or bean bag rounds, it will be counted in this category.
Damage to equipment is counted in a separate "Equipment Damage" category, but may be also listed in this Physical Attack category if the damage occurs with an attack.
Journalists affected by tear gas, pepper spray, or other mass riot control agents will be counted if the individual suffers serious injury or appears to have been specifically targeted. Incidents that fall outside these parameters and in which multiple journalists were affected by riot control agents may be counted in the “Other” category.
Denial of access to government events that are traditionally open or attended by the press and where the denial of access either deprives the public of significant information, appears to be retaliatory, or is done without meaningful justification. Concrete changes in policy or practice to restrict or deny access may also be included in this category.
Denial of access to individuals in some cases, such as where the available space limits the number of journalists allowed to attend or where individuals arguing for access do not meet reasonable standards for credentials, can be seen as meaningful justifications and will not be included.
Selected public threats made to reporters and media organizations by U.S. politicians and other public figures, which can have a chilling effect on journalism.
Incidents that fall outside the scope of other categories, but reach a threshold of concern as determined by editorial discretion. This category is not meant to be comprehensive, but aims to highlight emblematic threats and harassment, vandalism and clearly abusive lawsuits. See our FAQ page for more information.
Updated August 2020
News organizations or journalists who are ordered by a judge not to publish information under threat of punishment
Damage to a journalist's equipment or property, either as the result of a targeted attack by a public or private individual or in the course of their work.