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The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, in conjunction with the Chicago law firm Mandell Menkes, has established a local hotline for journalists covering the upcoming NATO summit who may be arrested or otherwise obstructed from covering protests and other public events.
The hotline, 312-251-1000, will be staffed by volunteer attorneys 24-7 from Sunday, May 20 through Monday, May 21. If, for any reason, the number is unavailable, working journalists can call the cell phones of Mandell Menkes attorneys Steve Mandell, 312-251-1001, or Steve Baron, 312-505-4452. In addition, the Reporters Committee’s year-round journalists’ hotline will be available at 800-336-4243.
The Reporters Committee also has prepared a two-page info sheet on how to be prepared and what journalists should do if they are arrested. The information, tailored to Chicago law and police procedures for the summit, is available online and as a downloadable PDF at www.rcfp.org/nato2012 .
Earlier this month, the Reporters Committee hosted a webinar, “Police, Protesters and the Press,” during which legal experts discussed reporters’ and photographers’ rights to cover public events and what to expect if they are arrested. Playback of the webinar is available on the Reporters Committee website at www.rcfp.org/webinars.
Similar hotlines and info sheets will be available for the Republican National Convention in Tampa and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, where the Reporters Committee is working with local law firms and public officials to ensure press rights are considered and respected.
“This is the kind of service you hope journalists don’t need, but that you always want to have in place in case they do,” said Reporters Committee Legal Defense Director Gregg P. Leslie, who is coordinating the efforts in each city. “Although our meetings with Chicago police have been very productive, it’s likely that in the heat of the moment an officer on the street may try and stop a photographer or reporter, or that a journalist might be arrested. Having this information and access to the hotline will hopefully ensure that the situation can be remedied quickly.”
Advice for journalists covering the event includes:
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: