Journalists covering the 2020 primaries, political conventions and the general election will have special access to pro bono legal services and a range of resources through the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the National Press Photographers Association.
“Reporting on elections is always a crucial element of the democratic process, and we want to continue to ensure that journalists are well-equipped to handle any challenges that might arise this year,” said Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee, which has partnered with NPPA for several election cycles to provide these on-the-ground services. “We’re delighted to be back with NPPA and local media lawyers to make these resources available to the journalists who need them.”
Ahead of voting in early primary states, the Reporters Committee has published an updated Election Legal Guide — available in English and Spanish — that includes information about exit polling, newsgathering in or near polling places, ballot selfies and more. The guide also includes new state-specific information for the early primary and caucus states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
The Reporters Committee and NPPA will also provide trainings for law enforcement officials to foster a better understanding of newsgathering rights and law enforcement responsibilities.
“I’m very pleased that NPPA is able to play a proactive role along with the Reporters Committee in keeping journalists safe as they cover the 2020 election,” said NPPA President Michael P. King. “It is vital that we encourage dialogue between law enforcement and journalists to promote an appreciation and respect for the roles they play in keeping the public safe and informed.”
In addition, the Reporters Committee will collaborate with NPPA and local media lawyers to host trainings for newsrooms and journalists in advance of the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in July and the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, in August. The newsroom trainings will focus on journalists’ legal rights, as well as practical advice regarding safety and situational awareness for reporters covering the conventions and any demonstrations that may occur. Both trainings are generously funded by the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation with contributions from the Reporters Committee and NPPA.
“It will be crucial during this election year for journalists to be the honest brokers of information the country needs and to be treated as such,” said Irwin Gratz, president of the SPJ Foundation. “It’s why the SPJ Foundation is an enthusiastic supporter of these efforts.”
The Reporters Committee will continue to operate its legal hotline, as it has in every election cycle since 1972, for journalists who have questions about or encounter issues while reporting on the primary elections or political conventions. The fastest way to reach an attorney through the hotline is by completing an online form, but journalists can also call 1-800-336-4243 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The hotline will be staffed by Reporters Committee attorneys in Washington, D.C., as well as local attorneys who have generously agreed to provide assistance during the conventions from July 13–16, 2020, in Milwaukee (Brian C. Spahn and James A. Friedman at Godfrey Kahn) and from Aug. 24–27, 2020, in Charlotte (Jonathan E. Buchan at Essex Richards).