The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press will again run dedicated hotlines offering free legal aid to journalists who may face arrest, detention or other official obstacles while covering the Republican and Democratic political conventions, or any protests or other events affiliated with the conventions.
“The events of recent weeks involving police and protesters, as well as the politically charged atmosphere generally have left many concerned that reporters and photographers may face additional confrontations covering the nominating conventions this year,” said Reporters Committee Executive Director Bruce D. Brown. “Media attorneys have talked with police and city officials in both Cleveland and Philadelphia to help ensure that journalists are not impeded in their job to inform the public. If that is not the case, however, we stand ready to help.”
Last weekend, four journalists in Rochester, N.Y., and Baton Rouge, La., were swept up in arrests while covering protests. The Reporters Committee believes that these arrests were unwarranted; police need to let reporters and photographers do their jobs. Journalists were similarly arrested in the summer of 2014 as they tried to cover the protests in Ferguson, Mo.
The Reporters Committee has operated special convention hotlines for reporters covering the political conventions since 1972. The hotlines will be available around the clock for the duration of both events at:
- Republican National Convention, July 18-21 in Cleveland: The hotline will be run in conjunction with lawyers from BakerHostetler, led by Mike Farrell. The main hotline number is 216-861-7694.
- Democratic National Convention, July 25-28 in Philadelphia: The hotline will be run in conjunction with lawyers from Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz LLP, led by Gayle Sproul. The main hotline number is 215-988-9782.
The Reporters Committee’s year-round hotline, 800-336-4243 will also be available, and attorneys can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and via Twitter @rcfp. In addition, journalists can download the Reporters Committee free FirstAid media law app for direct hotline access from their mobile phones. Links to the app are online at rcfp.org/app.
The hotline attorneys will also work with attorneys from the National Press Photographers Association, who will be present in the convention cities, and will attempt to coordinate activities with other legal assistance organizations in both cities.
More details on each of the convention hotlines can be found on a special conventions page on the Reporters Committee website, https://www.rcfp.org/conventions. These pages will be updated as necessary through the conventions.
About the Reporters Committee
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press was founded by leading journalists and media lawyers in 1970 when the nation’s news media faced an unprecedented wave of government subpoenas forcing reporters to name confidential sources. Today it provides pro bono legal representation, amicus curiae support, and other legal resources to protect First Amendment freedoms and the newsgathering rights of journalists. Funded by corporate, foundation and individual contributions, the Reporters Committee serves the nation’s leading news organizations; thousands of reporters, editors, and media lawyers; and many more who use our online and mobile resources. For more information, go to rcfp.org, or follow us on Twitter @rcfp.