Newsgathering

This section covers many of the issues that journalists encounter as they're on the streets trying to gather news, including being stopped by police for reporting on or photographing at an emergency scene, being held back because you've been denied credentials, and being kept off of public or private property while covering a story. While reporters don't have a greater right of access than the general public, officials sometimes go out of their way to interfere with journalists simply because they are reporting to a larger audience. This section also covers controversies involving interviewing prisoners.

Those who paid the price

Jailed journalists gather to tell their stories, advocate for reporter's shield law
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Kimberly Chow

Brian Karem moderates a panel of journalists who have spent time caged by the state for doing their jobs at a National Press Club Freedom of the Press event, June 1, 2015. Panelists from left to right are Josh Wolf, Brad Stone, Lisa Abraham, Vanessa Leggett, Judith Miller (obscured) Brad Stone, Roxana Kopetman and Libby Averyt.

Going to jail to protect a source, whether for a weekend or several months, comes with a heavy price for journalists — and the unpleasantness of the experience can last for years.

The dangers of doxxing

What journalists can do to avoid attacks using their personal information
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Jenn Henrichsen

Threatening journalists over their reporting is not a new concept, but the age of electronic media has brought a new method of intimidation and harassment known as doxxing.

Doxxing – named for docs or documents and also called doxing or d0xing – starts with publishing someone’s personal information in an environment that implies or encourages intimidation. Typically done online, the information then is used by others in a campaign of harassment, threats and pranks.

Journalists targeted by doxxing attacks, which are usually based on something they’ve written, find their personal and professional lives disrupted and sometimes turned completely upside down.

As recording police officers draws more attention, Dallas police policy tries to 'water down' the right

Jacob Donnelly | Newsgathering | News | June 3, 2015
News
June 3, 2015

When the Dallas Police Department released its policy in May on the right of the press and public to records its officers, the media were left scrambling to figure out what had changed between when the policy was drafted and circulated and when it was released officially.

People v. Raef

April 1, 2015

Photographer Paul Raef was prosecuted under California Vehicle Code 40008, basically an anti-paparazzi law that imposes additional penalties on violators of generally applicable reckless driving laws when those violators are driving with the intent to gather news for commercial purposes. After Raef appealed the Court of Appeals\' refusal to hear his case, the California Supreme Court returned the case to the Appellate Court. The Reporters Committee then filed another brief in the case, this time on the merits.

People v. Raef

December 12, 2014

Photographer Paul Raef was prosecuted under California Vehicle Code 40008, basically an anti-paparazzi law that imposes additional penalties on violators of generally applicable reckless driving laws when those violators are driving with the intent to gather news for commercial purposes. After the Court of Appeals refused to hear Raef's appeal, Raef filed a petition for review to the California Supreme Court, which the Reporters Committee supported with an amicus letter brief.

The Reporters Committee and seven other groups argued that the law imposes an additional punishment for driving while being a journalist and threatens the First Amendment right of newsgathering. It punishes both paparazzi and members of the mainstream media who are traveling with the intent of gathering news. The law could be used to harass journalists.

"Citizenfour" filmmakers move to dismiss federal lawsuit

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Tom Isler

Still from citizenfour

A lawsuit over Edward Snowden's actions, detailed in the documentary "citizenfour," prompted a private lawsuit.

The makers of Citizenfour, the Oscar-nominated documentary film about Edward Snowden, have moved to dismiss a federal civil lawsuit that alleges they aided and abetted the “illegal and morally wrongful acts” of Snowden.

Judge slaps whistleblowers with $1.61 million fine for talking to media

Kimberly Chow | Newsgathering | News | January 29, 2015
News
January 29, 2015

U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg has fined two whistleblowers in Atlanta for contacting members of the media during a five-year period while the suit was under seal.

Whistleblowers Victor Bibby and Brian Donnelly, mortgage brokers at U.S. Financial Services Inc., discussed the case confidentially with FOX investigative reporters nearly four years after they initially filed their complaint but a year before the case was unsealed. Their punishment, imposed in a January 5 order, is to pay a $1.61 million fine. The order was first reported by the Atlanta legal newspaper The Daily Report.

People v. Raef

November 3, 2014

Photographer Paul Raef was prosecuted under California Vehicle Code 40008, basically an anti-paparazzi law that imposes additional penalties on violators of generally applicable reckless driving laws when those violators are driving with the intent to gather news for commercial purposes. The Reporters Committee and seven other groups argued that the law imposes an additional punishment for driving while being a journalist and threatens the First Amendment right of newsgathering. It punishes both paparazzi and members of the mainstream media who are traveling with the intent of gathering news. The law could be used to harass journalists. The amicus coalition submitted a letter brief to the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Four, asking for the court to grant Raef's petition for transfer or, in the alternative, for a writ of mandamus. The court denied Raef's petition for transfer and for writ of mandamus.

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Wasden

December 4, 2014

The Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the attorney general of Idaho over Idaho's "ag gag" law, which imposes penalties for "agricultural production interference," in essence recording images and sounds on the property of agricultural production facilities. It punishes people who investigate such facilities' cruelty to animals and other unsafe food practices. In supporting the plaintiff's push for a decision in their favor before a federal district court, the Reporters Committee argued that the Idaho law infringes on First Amendment rights of people who want to inform the public about important matters such as food safety. It fails to survive strict scrutiny because it does not further the government's interest in promoting food safety and is not narrowly tailored.

Ferguson and the right to photograph police

The summer protests shined a spotlight on coverage issues, and warned of things to come
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Kimberly Chow

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Protesters march on Nov. 23 in St. Louis, before the grand jury returned a decision.

While the country awaited a grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri, in late November, the protests following the death of Michael Brown in August served as an early reminder that members of the press can often be swept up as part of the story they are covering. As journalists vigorously covered the public unrest, many found themselves harassed or placed under arrest simply for engaging in the activity of filming or photographing the police activity around the protests. Some had guns pointed at them, and others were held overnight.