Reuters journalists targeted by US authorities - editor-in-chief
Friday 5 June 2020
Reuters journalists in the United States - as well as reporters from other news organisations - have faced unacceptable violations of their US First Amendment rights while covering protests over racial injustice prompted by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Editor-in-chief Stephen Adler (photo) told staff on Friday: “We have seen several of our colleagues targeted by authorities while covering these protests, resulting in injuries from rubber bullets and other physical attacks. We are actively addressing these assaults with relevant officials. It was clear in all instances that our journalists were members of the press and not a threat to public order.”
Reuters has sent letters to local authorities “objecting to the unjustifiable assaults and calling for immediate action,” Adler said. The letters were signed by Reuters general counsel, Gail Gove.
In addition, Reuters has joined other news organisations in signing a letter from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to Minnesota officials demanding they take immediate steps to stop the arrests of, and attacks on, journalists.
“The right of the press to document police activity is foundational to our democracy and has long been recognised and protected by the courts,” the letter states.
Journalists must be allowed to report the news in the public interest without fear of harassment or harm, Adler told staff.
“The events over the past two weeks have highlighted the threats to press freedom that many of you around the world face every day.”
Adler thanked all Reuters staff in every country “for your bravery and commitment to reporting the facts and to shining a light in dark places.”
He added: “I’ll leave you with my favourite quote from the legendary U.S. Justice Louis Brandeis: “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” ■