NAHJ expresses concern over move by City of Los Angeles, violates press rights

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The Los Angeles Police Department, under the guidance of the City Attorney, released photographs of officers as part of litigation in response to a public records request.

Officers sued the department over it, claiming privacy violations, and the City of Los Angeles has now taken two legal actions against the journalist and a watchdog group that published the images last year. The latest move by the City Attorney seeks to hold the journalist and watchdog group responsible for any damages granted to the officers.

In other words, the blame for releasing the photos — and the associated financial burden — is being shifted to include a journalist for doing their job reporting on the criminal justice system.

This blatant attack on the First Amendment could limit speech and journalistic work, and moreover, punish reporters personally. This could also set a dangerous precedent making not only journalists, but ANY citizen, financially liable for receiving public records that the city itself vetted and chose to release. This chills everyone’s constitutional rights and harms the public’s ability to know how their own government is operating.

Groups signing the statement:

Asian American Journalists Association, Los Angeles board
CCNMA, Latino Journalists of California
Los Angeles Press Club
Media Guild of the West, The NewsGuild-CWA Local 39213 
National Association of Hispanic Journalists board
Radio Television Digital News Association
Society of Professional Journalists, Los Angeles
Society of Professional Journalists, National
Joey Scott, IWW-Freelancer Journalist Union

About the National Association of Hispanic Journalists:

NAHJ is the largest organization of Latino journalists in the United States and is dedicated to the recognition and professional advancement of Hispanics in the news industry. Established in April 1984, NAHJ created a national voice and unified vision for all Hispanic journalists. The mission of NAHJ is to increase the number of Latinos in the newsrooms and to work toward fair and accurate representation of Latinos in news media. NAHJ has over 4,000 members, including working journalists, journalism students, other media-related professionals and journalism educators. For more information please visit NAHJ.org or follow on X @NAHJ.

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