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Friends of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker:
Welcome back to your monthly newsletter around press freedom violations in the United States.
A lot of the information I wanted to share with you in this month’s update has been eclipsed by the events of the last week. As riots spread like wildfire across the country, an unprecedented targeting of journalists — by both law enforcement and protesters — have filled our news feeds.
The Tracker is exceptionally poised to document these aggressions, and rest assured our small team is working as quickly as possible to create a meticulous accounting of what will be a watershed moment for freedom of the press in our country.
Say his name: George Floyd protests
To put some perspective on the unprecedented nature of the weekend's attacks on journalists, the Tracker documented 100-150 press freedom violations in the United States per year, for the last 3 years. We are currently investigating more than 100 from just the last three days.
We’re coordinating with partners to compile incidents, which can be found here as published.
And because I always work ahead, here is the rest of your regularly scheduled newsletter.
Harassment from Arizona to Wisconsin
At the beginning of the month in Ohio, a reporter covering a protest of the state’s reopening guidelines was harassed by a woman in such close proximity — despite being asked to back away — that the reporter felt her spittle. A few days later, two reporters from The Arizona Republic and a news crew were harassed while awaiting President Donald Trump’s visit to a mask plant in Phoenix. A few days after that, the president amplified protesters’ chants of “Fake news is not essential” by retweeting a video of a journalist being harassed in New York. A few days after that, well, you get the idea. We’re collecting these instances of journalists being harassed for wearing masks and while covering COVID-related protests in one place:
Also Documented by the Tracker
An Illinois man is arrested after grabbing a reporter during a live broadcast and shouting obscenities at her; A different Illinois man, upset that he may have been inadvertently filmed, assaults a photojournalist and smashes his news camera; In Memphis, a nonprofit journalist blocked from the mayor’s email list sues to gain access. Find all incidents here.
All the Updates
In addition to reporting press freedom violations as they happen, we continuously update our database as incidents evolve.
- After publishing a state-by-state roundup of transparency and access to governor’s briefings, we received responses from journalists across the U.S. and its territories. Those responses helped us craft a territory-focused update to the analysis.
- A prosecutor declined to pursue criminal charges against two journalists after Liberty University obtained trespassing warrants for their April reporting from its campus;
- In latest media escalation between China and the U.S, the State Department announced it was restricting the duration of visas of Chinese journalists working in the United States for non-American outlets.
Be safe, friends.
Managing Editor, U.S. Press Freedom Tracker