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.

Carpenter v. United States

August 14, 2017

This case asks the U.S. Supreme Court to answer whether the warrantless seizure and search of historical cellphone records revealing the location and movements of a cellphone user over the course of 127 days is permitted by the Fourth Amendment. RCFP and 19 media organizations joined as amici in support of petitioner, arguing that the Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement to obtain a warrant to get cellphone location information. The brief explained the historic connection between the First and Fourth Amendments, and argued that long-term tracking of cellphone location information could reveal First Amendment-protected activities and threaten the confidentiality of the newsgathering process. 

Reporters Committee plays key role in transparency, right-to-record cases

Demi Vitkute | Newsgathering | News | July 21, 2017
News
July 21, 2017
Three significant court victories this month helped advance the cause of access to public records and increased transparency. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed amicus briefs in all three cases, which involved the right to record police officers in public spaces, public access to dashboard videos of fatal encounters with police, and a ruling overturning Utah’s “ag-gag” law. The Reporters Committee argued in all three cases that greater access and openness is necessary for the public to stay informed and hold the government accountable to its citizens. 
 

Letter to DHS Inspector General on border searches of journalists

June 13, 2017

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press wrote to the Department of Justice's Inspector General to express our concern about United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) policies and practices that affect journalists at the border. The Office of the Inspector General had earlier announced that it is looking into border inspection procedures.

Letter to West Virginia Capitol Police

May 16, 2017

The Reporters Committee wrote a letter on behalf of a coalition of national media organizations objecting to the arrest of reporter Dan Heyman in the West Virginia capitol, for shouting questions to Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway and HHS Secretary Tom Price during a visit.

Garcia v. Bloomberg

April 10, 2017

Petitioners seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court of dismissal of their civil rights suit concerning arrests of protesters during an Occupy Wall Street protest, arguing that they have a right to notice before being arrested for participation in a lawful protest. Attorneys for David Wright Tremaine wrote a brief on our behalf arguing that a lack of notice before mass arrests also interferes with reporters’ rights while covering newsworthy events.

Avoiding the gas: Journalists, police clash over gas mask policies

Lisa Burgoa | Newsgathering | News | January 10, 2017
News
January 10, 2017

Visual journalist Armando Gallardo, a freelancer for the news and entertainment network Fusion, was arrested Sept. 26 by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and charged with an “extraordinary event” violation while covering protests in Charlotte over the fatal shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott.

His crime? A gas mask, tucked away into his backpack as he snapped photos and spoke with members of a community reeling from violence.

Letter in support of reporter Aaron Cantu

February 27, 2017

The Reporters Committee, joined by the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, wrote to the U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., in support of Aaron Cantú, the one remaining journalist still facing charges related to the protests on Inauguration Day. The letter questions why charges are still pending and why a journalist faces indictment when it appears he was covering the protests at the time of his arrest.

Journalists face charges in Inauguration arrests; one sees charges dropped

Emma Lux | Newsgathering | News | January 27, 2017
News
January 27, 2017

Charges have been dropped against one of the seven individuals arrested and charged with felony rioting while covering the anti-Trump protests last Friday, according to a filing by the U.S. Attorney’s office in D.C. Superior Court.

Evan Engel, who works at the news site Vocativ, had been released pending trial last weekend. The rioting charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

“After consultation with the counsel for Mr. Engel, who is a journalist with Vocativ, as well as a review of evidence presented to us by law enforcement, we have concluded that we will not proceed with the charge against this individual,” prosecutors said in a media statement. Engel's lawyer is former White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler.

Szurovecz v. Hungary (Eur.Ct.Hum.R.)

September 30, 2016

A Hungarian journalist at abcug.hu, an online news portal, was denied access to two Hungarian refugee camps. A report by the Hungarian Commissioner for Fundamental Rights described these conditions as amounting to inhuman and degrading treatment. His requests were denied based on the privacy interests of the refugees. The Reporters Committee joined a coalition that intervened in the case, arguing that European Union law allowed journalists to report on important public controversies like this.

Fields v. City of Philadelphia

November 1, 2016

The Reporters Committee, joined by 31 news organizations, filed a brief in the Third Circuit in support of two individuals who had been arrested for photographing police officers during arrests. The district court in Philadelphia had held that individuals have no First Amendment right to record officers in public unless they do so to criticize the police. The amicus brief argued that photos and videos provided by citizens and bystandards are valuable to the news media and the public, and taking such images should be encouraged.