The Orange County Press Club Board of Directors is following claims that private security guards hired by the Orange Unified School District attempted to corral Voice of OC, Southern California News Group and freelance photographers into a press pen during a public meeting on Sept. 7.
After speaking with two photojournalists who were harassed in the course of their work, the Board feels it prudent to remind our members that state and federal case law is on their side in these types of situations involving a “designated press area” at public proceedings. We believe arming reporters and photographers with information about their rights is the best defense against this bad behavior.
From the Reporters Committee For Freedom of the Press: Cal. Gov’t Code § 54950 As stated by one court, “it is clearly the public policy of this State that the proceedings of public agencies, and the conduct of the public’s business, shall take place at open meetings, and that the deliberative process by which decisions related to the public’s business shall be conducted in full view of the public.”
Journalists are and should be treated just like members of the public. Sequestering people based on their occupation is a slippery slope.
The Board has discussed next steps to educate OUSD officials and the public that we will not tolerate further infringement of press freedoms in Orange County.
The 2022-23 Orange County Press Club Board of Directors