Reporters Committee encourages media to speak out on World Press Freedom Day

Press Release | May 3, 2012

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Executive Director Lucy A. Dalglish released the following statement today to recognize World Press Freedom Day:

“As we mark another World Press Freedom Day, we marvel at the courage of our colleagues around the globe who fight for the right of people to know the truth about their governments. They do this without hesitation, despite great danger to themselves and sometimes, tragically, to their families.

“We support them, encourage them and, when necessary, speak out when they are persecuted, jailed and murdered in the course of reporting on and photographing news. The global journalism community must continue to stand against those who seek to control information, who work against the cause of press freedom and who will employ any means necessary to achieve those ends.

“Increasingly, journalists in the U.S. must look inward as well. While we are fortunate to have laws and policies that speak to the importance of open government and the principles of free press and speech, there are those who believe the U.S. news media have too much freedom. There are those who would arrest or otherwise prevent journalists from covering events on public streets. There are those who believe court proceedings and records should be closed to the public. All of this going on in, arguably, one of the freest press nations in the world.

“On World Press Freedom Day – and every day – we must speak out whenever we see or experience the press being stifled. We must rally behind our colleagues who are threatened with subpoenas to reveal confidential sources. We must never allow those who kill, kidnap or assault journalists to go unpunished. We must educate ourselves about our rights to access so that officials cannot deny them.

“World Press Freedom is more than one day. It’s our assignment every day.”

*****

To help journalists working in the U.S. understand their rights, the Reporters Committee has launched a free webinar series. The first two will look at covering protests and similar events and the second will focus on court access.

The May 9 webinar will give reporters and photographers information about their rights when covering protests and other events where they could be arrested. It is designed specifically to help those covering the ongoing Occupy protests, the upcoming NATO summit , and the major-party political conventions, for which Reporters Committee will host special media law hotlines for journalists in need.

The second, on June 5, explains the right of access to courtrooms, related documents and what to do if faced with a gag order or closed doors.

Information about both webinars, including how to register, is on the Reporters Committee website.

About the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Founded in 1970, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press offers free legal support to thousands of working journalists and media lawyers each year. It is a leader in the fight against persistent efforts by government officials to impede the release of public information, whether by withholding documents or threatening reporters with jail. In addition to its 24/7 Legal Defense Hotline, the Reporters Committee conducts cutting-edge legal research, publishes handbooks and guides on media law issues, files frequent friend-of-the-court legal briefs and offers challenging fellowships and internships for young lawyers and journalists. For more information, go to www.rcfp.org, or follow us on Twitter @rcfp.

Related Reporters Committee resources:

· Release: Reporters Committee to host free webinars on covering protests and courts