OC Press Club joins journalists standing with Alene Tchekmedyian

The following statement is from more than a dozen organizations representing thousands of working journalists and First Amendment advocates. Orange County Press Club’s Board of Directors agreed to join our colleagues in standing up for a free press.

Journalism is not a crime. Our community of journalism associations, media unions and First Amendment advocates stands in solidarity with Los Angeles Times reporter Alene Tchekmedyian and all journalists who are threatened or harassed by law enforcement.

Today, the Los Angeles County Sheriff suggested that Alene is a subject in a criminal investigation into a leaked video showing a deputy kneeling on an inmate’s head. In recent weeks, Alene has reported on claims alleging that the Sheriff obstructed justice and retaliated against whistleblowers who raised concerns about the incident. This escalation comes after a years-long history of the Sheriff harshly criticizing many local journalists just for doing their jobs, including Cerise Castle, Josie Huang, Maya Lau and others.

For over 50 years, the Supreme Court has upheld the First Amendment right to publish information of public concern received by members of the press or public. For the Sheriff to suggest otherwise is an unconscionable attempt to deter the press from exercising its long-established right to report on abuses of power.

We condemn these outrageous attacks on newsgathering, and we remain committed to supporting journalism that reports on the facts without fear or favor.

Media Guild of the West, The NewsGuild-CWA Local 39213

Los Angeles Times Guild

Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists

First Amendment Coalition

Radio Television Digital News Association

Asian American Journalists Association, Los Angeles

Online News Association Los Angeles

CCNMA Latino Journalists of California

Los Angeles Press Club

National Association of Black Journalists of Los Angeles

National Association of Hispanic Journalists

National Press Photographers Association

Open Vallejo / Informed California Foundation

We Make KPBS (SAG-AFTRA)

SPJ San Diego

SPJ Northern California

ACLU of Southern California

Susan E. Seager, Adjunct Clinical Professor of Law, Press Freedom clinic at the University of California, Irvine School of Law

Orange County Press Club

Californians Aware

Media Alliance

OC Press Club mourns veteran copy editor

The Orange County Press Club is saddened to learn that our colleague Dennis Brosterhous has died.

Since 2015, Brosterhous had served as a copy editor for Los Angeles Times Community News in Fountain Valley, helping publish The Daily Pilot and Times OC. Working the night shift, Brosterhous answered calls from feverish reporters needing an eleventh-hour edit on a story.

“I can’t tell you how lucky the younger people at the Daily Pilot were to have their work edited by a journeyman like Dennis. He was never judgmental; he took pride in pointing out our errors but did so in the manner of a teacher, not a critic,” Los Angles Times assistant managing editor John Canalis said.

Brosterhous worked hard all his life and never retired.

“I wish he had, but this is a hard line of work to give up once it’s in your blood,” Canalis added.

A Sun City resident, Brosterhous worked as a copy editor and designer for The Press-Enterprise in Riverside from 1998 to 2009.

Before that, he served as managing editor of The Sun City News and its sister community newspapers (Menifee News and Perris Valley News), according to his resume.

Brosterhous earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Southern California and an associate’s degree in English/Journalism from Long Beach City College.

Colleagues also described him as decent, funny, and smart. Brosterhous was an avid Dodgers fan and looked forward to attending games with his children for his birthday or on Fathers’ Day.

“He was so kind to us cub reporters and always willing to help out on a tight deadline,” Los Angeles Times reporter Faith E. Pinho said.

OC Press Club joins California journalism coalition to oppose SB 98

The Orange County Press Club Board of Directors agreed to join the following open letter distributed June 1. 

 

We, the undersigned organizations, which collectively represent thousands of California journalists, strongly oppose a recent amendment made to SB 98, a bill originally intended to protect journalists covering protests, demonstrations and civil unrest. This amendment may actually restrict existing press freedoms rather than expand them, turning this bill on its head and into something that hurts the very people it was written to help.

 

Many of our organizations an unprecedented coalition of press associations, labor unions, and journalism advocacy groups had endorsed SB 98 prior to this amendment, and others were actively considering doing so. But as now amended, we must withhold any endorsement and are prepared to actively oppose SB 98 until its intent to protect journalists is restored. 

 

We do not enter this political debate lightly. During the past two years, working conditions for California journalists have steadily deteriorated as many of our newspaper, television, radio, digital, freelance and student media colleagues covering protests have been arrested, detained or assaulted by law enforcement while on the job, including while covering the March 25 protest at Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles. Throughout California in the past 12 months alone, we have documented at least 36 incidents where police have injured, detained, arrested and violated the constitutional rights of clearly identifiable journalists.

 

SB 98, as originally introduced by Sen. Mike McGuire, would have modestly extended existing state protections for journalists working in disaster areas to also apply to journalists covering civil disturbances. But an amendment added by the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 20, 2021, would require journalists to seek permission of a police commander to enter closed areas around protests — a hurdle that doesn’t currently exist under state law. This is a clear attempt to hobble this bill. Journalists should not need permission from a police commander to cover protests, just as law enforcement-issued press credentials should not be required in order for journalists to exercise their First Amendment rights in a public forum. 

 

We are aware that law enforcement agencies, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, have been lobbying on SB 98 in recent months. We would point out that the Sheriff’s mishandling of press freedoms the department’s deputies tackled and arrested KPCC’s Josie Huang last fall and have injured others is one of the reasons our coalition formed in the first place.

 

We urge all First Amendment supporters in the California legislature to remove the amended language or strengthen SB 98 in a way that protects the vital activities of the press and the people’s right to receive information regarding matters of public concern. We encourage Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign a genuinely strengthened version into law.

 

Sincerely,

Asian American Journalists Association, Los Angeles chapter

Californians Aware

CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California

IBEW Local 45

Journalism and Women Symposium, Southern California (JAWS SoCal)

Los Angeles Press Club

Media Alliance

Media Guild of the West, NewsGuild-CWA Local 39213

National Association of Black Journalists of Los Angeles

National Association of Hispanic Journalists

National Press Photographers Association

National Writers Union

Online News Association Local Los Angeles

Orange County Press Club

Pacific Media Workers Guild, The NewsGuild-CWA Local 39521

Radio Television Digital News Association

Society of Professional Journalists, Greater Los Angeles chapter

Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter

We Make KCRW – SAG-AFTRA