Reporters Committee readies free hotline for journalists covering Republican, Democratic National Conventions

Press Release | August 16, 2012

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has established local hotline numbers in Tampa and Charlotte for reporters and photographers who may be arrested while covering the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. This free service has been provided by the Reporters Committee during every election cycle since 1972.

The Reporters Committee also is distributing a flier about the hotline both in the convention press rooms, on the Reporters Committee website, and through its recently launched Reporters Committee First Aid mobile app. The flier reviews preparations to cover protests as well as what journalists should expect if they are arrested or prevented from covering news.

Local hotline numbers and partner law firms are:

Republican National Convention, Tampa, Fla.

  • Hotline: 813-984-3076 or 813-984-3078
  • Legal Counsel: Thomas & LoCicero PL
  • Operation: The local hotline will remain open around the clock from Friday, Aug. 24 through the end of the convention

Democratic National Convention, Charlotte, N.C.

  • Hotline: 704-343-2063; backup numbers 704-904-5834 or 919-428-5883
  • Legal Counsel: McGuireWoods LLP
  • Operation: The local hotline will be in service 24 hours a day from Friday, Aug. 31 through the end of the convention

“It’s unfortunate, but we have seen an undeniable increase over the years in the need for the information fliers and the hotline services,” said Reporters Committee Interim Executive Director Gregg P. Leslie. “At the NATO summit in Chicago this spring, the hotline was called to help a freelance photographer who was arrested. Our local law firm partner Mandell Menkes LLC worked to get him out of jail, and to have charges decreased from a felony to a misdemeanor.”

Throughout both conventions, the year-round 24-7 Reporters Committee legal hotline will also be available at 800-336-4243 and though a direct connection via the First Aid app. Journalists are asked to call the local numbers if they are arrested or experience other problems with law enforcement officials. Issues with credentialing or access should be referred to the main hotline.

The Reporters Committee First Aid mobile app is available free in the Apple, Android and Amazon app stores by searching “Reporters Committee,” or via links on the Reporters Committee website.

For a primers on “Police, Protesters and the Press,” see the guide released earlier this year and watch the archived webinar.

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:

· Convention Hotlines

· Reporters Committee FirstAid app

· Police, Protesters and the Press