The United States has seen a wave of mass demonstrations and political protests in recent years. Press coverage of these events has been vital to communicating protesters’ concerns to the government and public. Yet in 2017, the most dangerous place in the U.S. for a journalist was at a protest. According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, nearly half of all press freedom incidents — such as arrests of and attacks on journalists, as well as searches and seizures of newsgathering equipment — occurred at protests.
This guide aims to help journalists understand their rights at protests and avoid arrest when reporting on these events. It summarizes the legal landscape and provides strategies and tools to help journalists avoid incidents with police and navigate them successfully should they arise. This guide does not replace the legal advice of an attorney. Journalists with additional questions or in need of assistance finding a lawyer should contact the Reporters Committee’s hotline at 800-336-4243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.