U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

It’s No Joke | Your Tracker Newsletter

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Published On
April 1, 2019

This is a copy of the email sent to newsletter subscribers on April 1, 2019. To subscribe to the newsletter, click here.

Friends of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker:

As today dawns the day of pranks and fools, we’ll give it to you straight here: This is the monthly Tracker newsletter that looks at press freedom violations in the U.S.

A Case to Watch: Distinction Without Merit

In Nevada—a state with usually very robust shield laws—a judge has ruled that a journalist isn’t protected by news media privilege because his publication is online-only. Contributor Sonia Smith brings us the case of Sam Toll, who is being compelled to reveal confidential sources as part of a defamation suit.

For now, the court had stayed the request, pending review by the state’s supreme court. This case is filed in our Subpoena/Legal Order category.


Hold the Phone, Hold My Fork

Twice in the last few weeks, contributor Stephanie Sugars has tracked reporters shut out from governmental proceedings. In mid-March, the Department of State barred its press pool from a briefing call with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in advance of his 5-day visit to the Middle East. Only faith-based media was allowed on the call, and the State Department has yet to make the transcripts, or a record of who attended, available to journalists.

Similarly, in late February, the White House barred four print reporters from covering a dinner during the summit between U.S. and North Korean leaders, citing a sensitivity “over shouted questions.”

These cases are tracked in the Denial of Access category.

We Must Insist: You Were Arrested

Since 2017, the Tracker has captured the stories of more than 30 journalists arrested while covering protests. This month saw the addition of three to that list when Sacramento-area reporters were arrested while covering a protest march. In full transparency, the Tracker includes Sacramento Bee reporter Dale Kasler in that count, though he himself — and other news reports — do not consider it an arrest.

Why the discrepancy? Kasler told the Tracker that he was not told he was under arrest nor read his Miranda rights. In our methodology, however, since he was restrained — his hands were zip tied behind his back — and unable to leave — until his superiors called for his release — we mark it as an arrest. Upon his release, Kasler also received a certificate noting “arrestee exonerated.” No charges are pending against the journalists.

While covering the same event, Sacramento Bee photojournalist Hector Amezcua was shoved to the ground, his equipment damaged.

These cases are tracked across multiple categories: Arrest/Criminal Charge, Physical Attack, and Equipment Damage.

Help Us Document

If you’re a journalist — or know of one — who has been attacked, seriously threatened, denied access by a public official or targeted with a legal order in the course of reporting, let us know. Share news tips with us at tips[at]pressfreedomtracker.us.

I’ll see you next month.

Managing Editor, USPFT

— Another way to help us document? Join our reporting team—we’re hiring!


A Case to Watch

Nevada judge orders online journalist to reveal sources, says not protected by shield law

Hold the Phone, Hold My Fork

Department of State bars press pool from briefing call, allowing only “faith-based media”

White House bars four print reporters from covering dinner between U.S., North Korea leaders

We Must Insist: You Were Arrested

Three journalists arrested while covering Stephon Clark protest in Sacramento

Sacramento photojournalist pushed to the ground by police while covering protest, his camera damaged