Chapter joins NEFAC on statement against subpoenaing of journalist’s notes
the New England Chapter of SPJ and the New England First Amendment Coalition are supporting the New Hampshire publication Foster’s Daily Democrat in its fight to protect its reporter’s unpublished notes.
A report in the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker brought our attention to the matter and prompted the following response:
The New England First Amendment Coalition and the Society of Professional Journalists strongly oppose an attempt by New Hampshire officials to force the disclosure of materials collected by a local journalist during a jailhouse interview last year.
While reporting for Foster’s Daily Democrat – a publication owned by Seacoast Media Group – journalist Brian Early met with Joshua Flynn, an inmate at the Strafford County House of Corrections who is awaiting trial on sexual assault charges. To help possibly strengthen their case against Flynn, state prosecutors filed a motion to compel on Jan. 29 seeking from Early any unpublished information collected during the interview.
This decision by prosecutors is an affront to the First Amendment. It impedes the newsgathering process and improperly seeks to employ the Fourth Estate as an investigatory tool of the government. As attorney Gregory V. Sullivan, a member of NEFAC’s Board of Directors who is representing Seacoast Media Group, argued to the court:
“[A] government that requires the press to produce to it unpublished materials degrades the autonomy and independence needed by the press to fulfill its role in educating and informing the citizenry.”
Read more of the statement here.