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Las Vegas Metro's Exclusion of Local Independent Media

Hello,

I wanted to make your organization aware of a shocking practice being done by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Apparently, it has been going on for several years, but has largely been unreported. Whenever an independent reporter or journalist not affiliated with a large news outlet comes to a crime scene or event, the police department actively works to remove them and tell them to leave… even if they are simply on a sidewalk or public property. This practice is affecting both small locally-owned news organizations, and freelancers who provide content to larger organizations alike.

A journalist simply standing on public property taking pictures/video or observing a scene is likely to be approached by police public information officers and asked what organization he is with. If he is unable to provide the name of a major news outlet, they specifically tell him to leave. If he asserts his rights and refuses to leave, he risks intimidation from police.

More recently, a new tactic is being employed by the police department to keep independent journalists from getting information at crime scenes. Whenever there is a police briefing or press conference that is held on the street, if an independent journalist attempts to stand amongst the other journalists and film or simply watch the proceedings, police will similarly demand his departure. If he doesn’t comply, police specifically tell all of the other media outlets to go into the crime scene and under the police tape where they receive a private briefing and police accounting of the events that took place. 

In a body camera video that was captured this week, you can see a member of the public information office approach the independent journalist while he is standing in a crowd of other reporters and specifically tell him that he is not going to be able to stay. When he asserts his rights, the officer then holds up the yellow police tape and tells “everyone else” to cross underneath where a private briefing is held. The independent journalist is forced to stand outside the tape and observe from afar, unable to hear anything that is said.

Obviously, this runs afoul of the First Amendment. There have been many court cases around the country where journalists become excluded from press conferences or media lists after writing a negative article about a government agency. The journalists have won every single case.

I’d appreciate it if your organization would help in this regard. We need to bring awareness to this issue as most of our colleagues probably are unaware that this is taking place. Regardless of anyone’s opinion about independent journalists or freelancers, this is a very slippery slope, and the police department could simply exclude any media whom it doesn’t favor. Please take a look at the body camera video, as it is quite shocking. What happened to the journalist in that video could have happened to anyone.

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Doug Roberts

Live Core Productions

707-940-LIVE (707-940-5483)





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