Despite the promise of the First Amendment, the rights of journalists to cover protests have never been secure. Hundreds of journalists have been detained, arrested, and assaulted by police while reporting on demonstrations throughout the United States. The challenges were particularly acute during the social justice protests that erupted following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and spread throughout the nation.
Covering Democracy: Protests, Police, and the Press, a Knight Institute report written by Joel Simon—2022-2023 Knight Institute senior visiting fellow and founding director of the Journalism Protection Initiative at the Newmark J-School—chronicles the history of hostility between the press and the police from the Civil Rights era to the present day. It offers specific recommendations, prepared by the Knight Institute, on how to protect press freedom and the right to record at future protests.
The evening will kick off with an advance screening of the Knight Institute's soon-to-be-released short documentary film exploring the same issues, “Flashpoint: Protests, Policing, and the Press.” The film features the stories of several journalists who were assaulted or arrested while reporting at protests and explores the conflict and tension experienced on the front lines, the changing role of the press, and the hardening of attitudes among the police towards journalists.
The evening is co-sponsored by the Knight Institute and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.