U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Portland mayor’s office requests reporters sign non-disclosure agreement

Incident Details

nda portland
November 17, 2018

A representative for Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler invited reporters from three news organizations to sign a non-disclosure agreement as a condition for access to the Portland Police Bureau's Incident Command Post during a protest by the right-wing group Patriot Prayer on Nov. 17, 2018, according to Willamette Week

The agreement prohibits the publication of “confidential” information which it broadly defines to include direct quotes.

“Direct quotes of the assigned employee or any other member interviewed or conversed with are Confidential unless the assigned employee otherwise consents to and authorizes publication of their direct quote,” the agreement states.

“The Receiving Party acknowledges that access to PPB facilities and Confidential Information during an observation and tour is a privilege and not a right. Thus, the Receiving Party agrees to waive any claims and hold City and PPB harmless for any perceived failure of the Disclosing Party to grant the Receiving Party access to Confidential Information, or for any restriction on the Receiving Party’s ability to use, reproduce, or publish Confidential Information.”

Willamette Week, which published a copy of the non-disclosure agreement, reported that journalists from KGW-TV, The Oregonian and the Portland Tribune were offered the deal by the mayor’s communications director Eileen Park.

"It's an effort to provide more access, transparency, and to show the public what goes into the decision making and planning process prior to and during these protests," Park stated in an email to a KGW reporter obtained by Willamette Week. "Lt Craig Dobson will be your liason [sic], and can guide when and what you will be able to tweet and share.”

The Portland Mercury wrote that Park worked with the Portland Police Bureau to select journalists based on their history of “fair and balanced” reporting.

"In hindsight, I can see how this does not look good," Park said. “Ideally, we should open this option up to every media outlet."

“We hear the concerns and hope media sees from our office it was about increasing access,” a spokesperson for the mayor told Willamette Week. "We'll continue to do that no matter what."

According to the Willamette Week, no news organization accepted the offer which was ultimately rescinded. Six people were arrested during the protest.

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