The New York Press Club stands in support of a bill introduced in the House and Senate this week that would better protect journalists by making it a federal crime to intentionally harm a working journalist or to do so with the intent of intimidating them from doing their jobs.
The bill, the Journalist Protection Act, was reintroduced today by U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA).
Listen to Steve Scott of WCBS Newsradio 880 and NYPC First Amendment Chair discuss the proposed legislation with Senator Blumenthal (interview starts at the 1:00 mark):
“It is, unfortunately, necessary during today’s volatile times to protect journalists to enable them to continue to report fairly and accurately without threat of physical harm,” said Debra Toppeta, president of the New York Press Club. “We support the Journalist Protection Act and urge legislators to get it passed to minimize the chance of threats and violence against the media.
According to a news release issued by the bill’s sponsors, the reintroduction of the bill comes as attacks on journalists are at an all-time high. Press Freedom Tracker reports that there were 427 physical attacks on journalists in 2020 – that’s higher than the prior three years combined. The release said the Journalist Protection Act makes an important statement that violence targeting the free press, an industry protected by the First Amendment, will not be tolerated, and will serve as the federal backstop if such crimes are not punished at the state or local level.
Other organizations supporting the bill include: Communications Works of America, News Media for Open Government, News Media Alliance, Radio Television Digital News Association, National Press Photographers Association, MPA – The Association of Magazine Media, National Newspaper Association, News Leaders Association, Society of Professional Journalists, Professional Photographers of America, American Society of Media Photographers, National Association of Broadcasters, Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press, North American Nature Photography Association, American Photographic Artists.
The Journalist Protection Act was first introduced in 2019.
Audio file by WCBS Newsradio 880.