Josh Stearns is the journalism and public media campaign director for Free Press.org, and savethenews.org. Below is an excerpt from the SaveTheNews blog commemorating World Press Freedom Day, and the alarming trend in the U.S. to arrest anyone with a camera at a public protest (or even just recording police activity in a public space).
“Today is World Press Freedom Day — but it sure doesn’t feel like it here in the U.S.
“Since September, police have arrested dozens of journalists and activists around the country for the “crime” of trying to document political protests in public spaces.
“People using iPhones, Androids and other mobile devices are changing the way we record and share breaking news. In return, police have targeted, harassed — and in many cases, arrested — those trying to capture images and video of public events.
“This week, Freedom House, an international human rights organization, released its 2012 press freedom rankings, noting that the United States had dropped to number 22 in the world. Earlier this year, Reporters Without Borders revealed that the U.S. had plummeted to number 47 in its press freedom index. Both organizations point to the ongoing assaults and arrests of journalists at Occupy protests as a key factor in the United States’ slipping rank.
“Unfortunately, not everyone sees it this way. During the May 1 Occupy protests, at least three journalists were arrested and many more reported rough treatment at the hands of local police. This isn’t an issue specific to one city or one group of protests. This is a national problem that is threatening to undermine one of our core freedoms. Conflicts like this are escalating in cities large and small, and all too often, the First Amendment is caught in the middle.”
Read the entire article, here.