- Published On
- February 28, 2023
- Written by
- Kirstin McCudden from Freedom of the Press Foundation
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Tragedy in Florida
On Wednesday, Feb. 22, Spectrum News 13 reporter Dylan Lyons and photojournalist Jesse Walden arrived along with other news crews in an Orlando suburb to report on the shooting death of a woman in the area.
Walden would later say that he was heading to get equipment out of the back of the unmarked station vehicle when he heard gunshots. He thought it was a drive-by shooting, but it was a man aiming at him: Walden was shot in the groin and transferred to a nearby hospital in critical condition. Lyons died of his wounds at the scene.
A 9-year-old girl nearby also died of gunshot wounds and her mother was injured. Within hours, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department arrested and charged a man with murder for the first gunshot victim — the death that brought journalists to the scene. On Feb. 28, additional charges were added: three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of armed burglary. Sheriff John Mina said it was unclear if the journalists were targeted because of their reporting.
The Tracker’s assault category captures the attacks on Walden and Lyons. It also captures that Lyons is the seventh journalist we’ve documented since 2017 to be killed in the course of or as the result of their reporting.
Spectrum News 13 colleagues spoke with Walden the day after the attack, and have shared updates of his recovery.
In Ohio, a press conference and a journalist’s arrest
On Feb. 8, NewsNation correspondent Evan Lambert went live from the governor’s press conference in East Palestine, Ohio, the site of a major train derailment earlier that week. Within minutes, his broadcast was interrupted by law enforcement who told him to stop filming. After he stopped his broadcast, Lambert was ordered to leave the event. When he questioned why, he was pinned to the ground and arrested.
After several hours in jail, the journalist was released on bail with fourth degree criminal trespassing and second degree resisting arrest charges.
Journalists and press freedom advocates were outraged at the unprovoked assault and arrest. So, apparently, was Gov. Mike DeWine, who told NewsNation that he was “shocked” by Lambert’s arrest and that he “had not authorized" it.
One week later, all charges were dropped. In his statement on Twitter, Lambert thanked everyone who shared the video showing his harassment, the excessive force and illegal arrest. He also thanked those who had supported him along with foundational First Amendment freedoms.
“I am doing alright. And I will be OK,” Lambert wrote. “I will also continue to do my job without fear or favor in service of the public.”
Lambert is the second journalist arrested so far this year.
Each month I highlight here for you major stories and updates in press freedom across the nation. For the most up-to-date news on journalists’ arrests and assaults — as well as other press freedom violations like prior restraints and subpoenas — follow us on Twitter or our fledgling Instagram account. This reporting is indebted to your support; donate to the Tracker.