SPJ Board letter opposing proposed changes to obtaining NYPD press credentials

Dermot Shea, Commissioner
New York City Police Department
One Police Plaza
New York N.Y. 10038
August 11, 2020

Dear Commissioner Shea:

New York City has seen a wave of mass demonstrations and political protests in recent years. Press coverage of these events is vital in relaying protesters’ concerns to the government and the public. Increased scrutiny of policing by the public and the press has suggested an urgent need for reform. In response, the New York Police Department is pursuing new rules that can restrict or prevent journalists from covering police activity.

The Board of Governors of the Deadline Club, the New York City chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, vehemently opposes efforts by the New York Police Department to amend the rules and make it easier for press credentials to be suspended or revoked. The First Amendment safeguards the right to freedom of speech and the press, fundamental liberties in a free government. The government may not use police power or other means to arbitrarily or unnecessarily interfere with these freedoms. In fact, the purpose of these rights was to foster public discussion free of government interference.

Increasing the NYPD’s authority to suspend or revoke press credentials would impede on the obligations of journalists to gather and share information under the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. Let’s not distract from the need for reform by placing blame on the journalists who raise awareness about it. There must remain a balance of power between the police and the press, especially during protests and demonstrations.

Sincerely,

NYC Deadline Club Board of Governors
Claire Regan, President

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