NEWS MEDIA UPDATE · GEORGIA · Newsgathering · March 17, 2006
Sheriff denies reporters access
March 17, 2006 · A sheriff, angry about an article last year in The Clayton News Daily, dismissed reporters from the paper from a news conference last week , while allowing other reporters to stay.
Earlier in the week, Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill also ordered a News Daily photographer out of a news conference about a state Supreme Court ruling that Hill could not fire his employees without cause, as he did when he first entered office in January 2005, the paper reported.
Hill’s dispute with the paper started in August when the paper ran an article about him removing plaques in the county courthouse Since then, Hill has declined to answer News Daily reporters’ questions or return their calls.
“Generally speaking, a public official cannot retaliate against a newspaper or TV station based on editorial content if the retaliation essentially cuts off the newspaper or station from access to news that the public official gives to other media,” said David Hudson, general counsel of the Georgia Press Association.
The newspaper has sent a letter of protest to the sheriff, but he continues to discriminate against them, Hudson said. He does not know if the paper plans to take legal action.
News Daily Publisher Bonnie Pratt declined comment beyond what the paper published March 10.