News Gathering

Knight Institute Urges Facebook To Change Policy To Create “Safe Harbor” For Journalists And Researchers

Knight Institute Urges Facebook To Change Policy To Create “Safe Harbor” For Journalists And Researchers

August 7, 2018: Knight Institute Requests And Suggests Amendments To Facebook’s Terms Of Service In Letter To Zuckerberg In a letter sent to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, The Knight First Amendment Institute called on the platform to amend its terms of service to allow journalists and researchers to safely operate on the platform. The letter, sent on behalf of three journalists[Read More…]

August 9, 2018 News Gathering, Press, Top Stories
Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz walks back in court as his attorney Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill (L) looks on in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S. April 27, 2018.      Taimy Alvarez/Sun-Sentinel/Pool via REUTERS

Florida School Board Wants To Hold Newspaper In Contempt For Publishing Parkland Shooter’s Records

August 15, 2018:”I find it shameful”: Judge Reprimands Newspaper For Publishing Redacted Material A Broward County judge lambasted the Sun Sentinel for publishing disclosed information contained in a redacted report that the paper says it obtained legally, because the information was already made public.  In response to the judge’s claim that she was under the impression that the newspaper would[Read More…]

Newly printed  Detroit News newspapers run thru the printing presses at the newspapers printing plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan December 16, 2008. The Newspapers Partnership announced a plan to reduce home-delivery of the papers to three days a week and a push for their on-line editions.   REUTERS/Rebecca Cook   (UNITED STATES)

Are Newsprint Tariffs Repressing The Free Press?

The U.S. International Trade Commission is considering whether to permanently institute a 30 percent tariff on newsprint from Canada, the largest source for US newspapers. In light of recent layoffs at the New York Daily News and many other newsrooms tapering their staff and product, how will this looming tariff threaten the operation and publication of newspapers of all sizes across the country?

August 6, 2018 Below the Fold, News Gathering, Press
Gene Policinski, Chief Operating Officer, Newseum Institute and First Amendment Center of Newseum Institute

Gene Policinski Commentary: The First Amendment Was Meant For Times Like Now

The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment expert, Gene Policinski, originally published this commentary on August 1, 2018, on the Newseum blog, and has given First Amendment Watch permission to reprint.           Donald Trump is working the old political shell game again — one that journalists must refuse to play and that every citizen should take as a[Read More…]

August 1, 2018 News Gathering, Press, Top Stories
Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Reporters Persona Non Grata at White House & Other Executive Branch Agencies

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump often called out news organizations for what he said was irresponsible reporting and excluded some of their reporters from his rallies. After assuming office, the President and his staff have continued to limit the access of some news organizations, leading to a larger issue under the First Amendment. The larger question remains: Can reporters be barred from news conferences because the Trump administration objects to coverage?

July 26, 2018 Access, News Gathering, Top Stories
BuzzFeed News Demands Access To Texas Detention Facility On First Amendment Grounds

BuzzFeed News Demands Access To Texas Detention Facility On First Amendment Grounds

June 20, 2018: BuzzFeed Is Calling On The U.S. Customs and Border Protection To Grant Its Reporters Access To The Facility BuzzFeed News sent a letter sent to the Chief Counsel of U.S. Customs and Border Protection requesting access to a centralized processing center in McAllen, Texas for a previously scheduled tour after a reporter’s request for attendance was rejected. [Read More…]

June 21, 2018 News Gathering, Press, Top Stories
Lata Nott, Executive Director of the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center

Lata Nott: The Biggest Threat To Democracy Might Be The Loss Of Local Newspapers

The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment expert, Lata Nott, originally published this op-ed on the Newseum blog and in local newspapers across the country, and has given First Amendment Watch permission to reprint.         If you’re reading this column in your local newspaper, congratulations!  Just by skimming your eyeballs over this page, whether it’s in print or online, you’re[Read More…]

June 19, 2018 News Gathering, Press, Top Stories
Jeff Sessions

Crackdown on Leakers Ramps Up With NYT Journalist Targeted in Leaks Investigation

Journalists often publish information taken from leaked classified documents. Does the First Amendment protect them from prosecution for doing so? The Supreme Court has not considered that exact question, but Bartnicki v. Vopper suggests that journalists would indeed be protected as long as they were innocent recipients of the information—that is, they did not participate in or encourage the illegal activity of leaking classified information. Under the Espionage Act of 1917, the government would have to prove that the journalists published with the intent to hurt the United States, a requirement that would likely be difficult to satisfy. The leakers, of course, do risk prosecution, and journalists can be ensnared in an investigation to discover the names of the confidential sources who provided the information to them. Aggressive prosecution of leakers began under President Obama – with the most famous case, Edward Snowden, still in hiding in Russia – and continues under President Trump. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rumored to even be considering a lie detector test to ferret out leakers.

June 13, 2018 Below the Fold, Leaks, News Gathering
Superior Court Judge Netti C. Vogel (screenshot from Providence Journal video 2012)

Newspaper Challenging RI Judge In Federal Court For Banning Juror Contact

June 12, 2018: Newspaper Seeking Clarification On Free Press Principles The Providence Journal is moving a First Amendment complaint against a Superior Court judge to federal court for declaring a ban on reporter contact with jurors after a trial. The newspaper’s lawyers, the state Superior Court, and the judge could not reach an agreement about reporter’s access to jurors and[Read More…]

Some Critics Still Blocked By @realDonaldTrump; Justice Department Appeals Ruling

Some Critics Still Blocked By @realDonaldTrump; Justice Department Appeals Ruling

President Trump blocked some of his critics on his Twitter handle, @realDonaldTrump, prompting a lawsuit arguing that such action violated their First Amendment rights. The lawsuit raised questions about the use of social media sites by public officials. Clearly, a personal website of a public figure is not subject to First Amendment restrictions, and so the site operator can block users. But a site run by the government, or run by a public official for his public business, would likely be categorized as a limited public forum protected by the First Amendment. Officials would violate the First Amendment if they discriminated against posters because of their viewpoint. But is @realDonaldTrump a personal site or an official government site? That’s a key question. He started the account in 2009, when he was a private citizen, but now uses it to share policy statements and his views on public issues. On May 23, 2018, U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled that Trump may not legally block users on Twitter because doing so violates a right to free speech; @realDonaldTrump unblocked the plaintiffs but not others who are blocked and the Justice Department is appealing the ruling. Meanwhile, other cases are percolating through the courts as well, with one to be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit involving a citizen who was blocked by a public official in Virginia from her Facebook account.

June 5, 2018 Access, Below the Fold, News Gathering