The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press led a coalition of 48 national media organizations that sent a protest letter objecting to the treatment of reporters during the recent events in Ferguson, Mo., that followed the police shooting of Michael Brown.
The letter was sent to the heads of the city and county police, as well as the state highway patrol.
"Officers on the ground must understand that gathering news and recording police activities are not crimes," the letter states. "The actions in Ferguson demonstrate a lack of training among local law enforcement in the protections required by the First Amendment as well as the absence of respect for the role of newsgatherers. We implore police leadership to rectify this failing to ensure that these incidents do not occur again."
The letter pointed out that the Department of Justice and several federal courts have all made clear that photographing police officers who are performing their duites is protected by the First Amendment. This right applies equally to the news media and the general public.
The 48 organizations joining the effort are: The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, ABC, Inc., ALM Media, LLC, American Society of News Editors, AOL-Huffington Post, The Associated Press, Association of Alternative Newsmedia, The Association of American Publishers, Inc., Bloomberg L.P., Cable News Network, Inc., CBS Broadcasting Inc., Courthouse News Service, The Daily Beast Company LLC, The E.W. Scripps Company, First Amendment Coalition, First Look Media, Fox News Network LLC, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Hearst Corporation, Inter American Press Association, Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, Journal Communications, Inc., The Kansas City Star, LIN Media, The McClatchy Company, Media Consortium, Media Law Resource Center, MediaNews Group, Inc., d/b/a Digital First Media, National Geographic, The National Press Club, National Press Photographers Association, National Public Radio, Inc., NBCUniversal Media, LLC, The New Yorker, Newspaper Association of America, The Newspaper Guild – CWA, North Jersey Media Group Inc., Online News Association, Radio Television Digital News Association, Reporters Without Borders, The Seattle Times Company, Society of Professional Journalists, Student Press Law Center, Time Inc., Tribune Publishing Company, Tully Center for Free Speech, VICE Media, and The Washington Post.
Related Reporters Committee resources: