U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

California journalist restored to district attorney’s media list

Incident Details

Date of Incident
October 20, 2023

Denial of Access

Government agency or public official involved

The office of Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price, who is pictured above, repeatedly removed journalist Emilie Raguso from its media list in 2023 in alleged retaliation for critical coverage.

October 20, 2023

Journalist Emilie Raguso, who operates the crime and safety news site The Berkeley Scanner, was removed from the media list of the Alameda County, California, district attorney multiple times in 2023 in alleged retaliation for her coverage. Raguso was reinstated after the office came under public scrutiny for barring her from a November press conference.

Raguso told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that though she launched The Scanner in 2022, she has covered crime and courts for more than a decade. But since she published an article in January that included criticisms of DA Pamela Price’s administration, Raguso said Price has declined all of her requests for comment or interviews and otherwise attempted to obstruct her coverage.

“From then on, they were really uninterested in talking with me and were pretty antagonistic about some things,” Raguso said. “So I’ve continued to try to get interviews and include their perspective, but it’s been challenging.”

Raguso added that when she attended Price’s first press conference in March, she thought everything had proceeded normally. She said she later learned from multiple individuals that Price had wanted to remove her, but some of her employees were able to convince Price not to.

In emails shared with the Tracker, an employee at the DA’s office told Raguso in June that her removal from the media list was a simple error, part of a general effort to remove out-of-date recipients, and that she had been added back. By October, however, Raguso realized that she had once again stopped receiving notice of upcoming press events.

Raguso told the Tracker that she emailed the DA’s office on Oct. 20 to be readded to the mailing list and to clarify why she kept being removed. She received a response to her inquiry on Nov. 1, when Communications Director Haaziq Madyun wrote to her that the mailing list was “under review.”

When Raguso attempted to attend Price’s Nov. 29 press conference, however, she was barred at the door due to unspecified “safety issues.” Following public outcry — including a letter penned by the First Amendment Coalition — Price’s office released a statement that Raguso would be added back to the media list and allowed to attend the DA’s press conferences.

“During several transitions of the DAO communications staff over the summer, the DAO media list was modified and reduced to a limited number of news outlets,” the statement said. “Miss Raguso, among others, including the Bay City News Service, was not included in the updated media list, an oversight now being corrected.”

Bay City News Service Managing Editor Dan McMenamin told the Tracker that it was not aware it had stopped receiving emails from the DA’s office until Raguso was barred from the press conference. When contacted by the news outlet, the DA’s office initially said it had an incorrect — and nonexistent — email address for it on record, McMenamin said.

The DA’s statement also noted that Price would be leading an effort to establish “clear and transparent media credentials guidelines that balance the need for public safety alongside accommodating today’s journalists. This critical work is long overdue.” Price’s office did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Raguso told the Tracker that apparent hostility from Price’s office and supporters has affected her reporting.

“I have worked hard to be professional and careful in all my dealings with the DA's office,” Raguso said, “and have taken pains to skip quite a few stories that were absolutely newsworthy — solely because of the complaints by her supporters that the coverage has been unfair or overly critical.”

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].