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Taking the Temperature | Our August 2019 Newsletter

August 1, 2019

Friends of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker:

Welcome back to your monthly newsletter around press freedom violations in the U.S.

13 on the 4th
We kicked off the beginning of the month with a 4th-of-July tweetfest highlighting press freedom violations across the original 13 colonies. If you follow us, you’ll know which state is the only one of the original 13 to not have made the pages of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

On non-national holidays, look for incident write-ups and updates, ongoing tracking of President Trump’s words about the media, feel-good-Friday journalism reads and news from our partners. Jump in now by following @uspresstracker on Twitter.

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Here’s what else we’ve been tracking recently:

It’s the Heat

Just weeks before the East Coast saw some of the hottest temperatures on record, photojournalist Michael Nigro was arrested while covering a climate change protest in front of The New York Times’ headquarters in New York.

Nigro told the Tracker that during his detainment, his camera and phone were taken and he was threatened with the loss of his press pass. We tracked his incident across two categories: Arrest / Criminal Charge and Equipment Search or Seizure.

It’s Also the Protests

Protests continue to be a source of danger for journalists, with at least 5 journalists coming under attack in the course of reporting from demonstrations this month, and at least 12 so far in 2019.

In Salt Lake City, Utah, two broadcast journalists were involved in a physical encounter at a protest over the city’s “inland port,” a controversial building project.

KUTV 2News photojournalist Matthew Michela told the Tracker that the incident left him shaken.

“I’ve done this job 10 years and I’ve never had someone lay hands on me,” Michela said.

In Puerto Rico, protests stretched across nearly two weeks as demonstrators called for the resignation of embattled Governor Ricardo Rosselló. We tracked reports of several journalists injured from police or crowds.

Find all these incidents in the Physical Attack category. You can filter for the tag protest or by location.

Road Rage

A Toledo, Ohio, news van was damaged this month when shots were fired at it from an unknown person in a moving vehicle. WTVG 13abc said its news crew, which was returning from assignment, was unhurt.

This incident is cross-posted under our Physical Attack and Equipment Damage categories.

All the Updates

In addition to reporting press freedom violations as they happen, we update our database as incidents evolve. There’s been a slew of updates recently, including a San Francisco judge quashing a warrant for independent journalist Bryan Carmody’s phone records — effectively making any information gathered from the illegal search unusable. Catch up on the status of the remaining four warrants, his arrest and equipment seizure here.

A few others cases of note:

  • An Illinois judge quashed a subpoena for journalistic records from Dropbox—a case we’ve been following closely to see how journalistic protections pertain to third-party vendors.
  • A police officer was recently charged with assault in the 2017 pepper spraying of livestreamer Heather DeMian and two others.
  • Manuel Duran, a Salvadoran journalist arrested while covering a 2018 protest, was released on bond after being held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for more than a year.
  • Nearly a year after the fact, all charges were dismissed against Dave Weaver, an independent videographer arrested and charged while covering a car crash in Illinois.
  • A $250 million libel suit against The Washington Post, which President Trump had endorsed on Twitter, was thrown out by a federal judge who cited First Amendment protections.

Support these updates and all of our work when you support the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. A donation to any one of our partners makes this possible. Find the full list on our About page.

Best,

Kirstin

Managing Editor, USPFT

— Another way to support the Tracker is to spread the word about the database. Ask for a 1-sheet to share or invite us to speak to you and your colleagues directly. Email here: media[at]pressfreedomtracker.us