News Media Groups Complain About Convention Restrictions

July 20, 2016

The nation's political nominating conventions are traditionally an important event for the thousands of journalists who attend and cover them. This year, the job is being made harder by new restrictions from authorities in both Cleveland and Philadelphia on the media.

Three top journalism groups expressed "concerns" July 17, 2016, on the eve of the Republican convention in Cleveland. The Society of Professional Journalists, the National Press Photographers Association, and the Radio Television Digital News Association pointed to several security-related restrictions they said amounted to interference in their ability to cover the conventions safely and effectively.

One restriction banned gas masks — which have become a defensive necessity in this age of street protests. "We believe that those news organizations wishing to protect their employees and individuals desiring to protect themselves from exposure to airborne chemical agents while covering the news should be allowed to do so," the groups said in a statement.

Another is a ban on backpacks and bags bigger than 18" x 13" x 7" — which severely cramps broadcast journalists' ability to carry electronic gear.

The groups warned police against unwarranted arrests of journalists merely for doing their jobs — a practice which has cost taxpayers significant amounts in the inevitable litigation.

For help this year, reporters at the conventions can call a legal hotline run by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press toll-free at 800-336-4243.

  • Release of July 17, 2016, Society of Professional Journalists, National Press Photographers Association, and Radio Television Digital News Association.
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