Journalists encouraged to act to prevent attacks while covering demonstrations

Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists writes in the Columbia Journalism Review, June 2, 2020, that hostility against journalists predated the Trump administration even if the intensity and scope of the current assaults is unprecedented. Police have been using military tactics and equipment to confront protesters, and journalists have been treated with no respect rather than as agents of the First Amendment. Simon suggests that reporters need to create new relationships with police departments across the country. The work has begun with press organizations contacting departments to inform them of the rights of journalists and making it clear that if police abuse their authority they will be investigated and prosecuted. Individual reporters should also make themselves known to police agencies and forge agreements allowing them to cover events requiring police action.

In the meantime, police continue to abuse journalists. New York City police officers confronted, shoved and cursed at Associated Press journalists at work at protests. The incident took place just after curfew of 8 p.m. took effect. Video journalist Robert Bumsted tried to explain they were allowed on the street as “essential workers,” but officers responded, “I don’t give a s—-” and “get the f—- out of here you piece of s—-.”  (VOA, June 3, 2020, by the Associated Press)

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