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