Statement supporting journalists covering protests

The Virginia Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists expresses its support of reporters and other news personnel covering local protests in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other recent killings of African Americans. It is critical for journalists to bear witness and document important events in their communities. Virginia journalists have shouldered that responsibility even as they continued to cover the COVID-19 pandemic and faced furloughs and other newsroom cutbacks.

SPJ Virginia Pro urges both law enforcement officers and protesters to let journalists do their jobs. Our chapter condemns attacks on and interference with journalists by both police officers and some demonstrators. As national SPJ officials said in an open letter to police and protesters, “journalists have a constitutional right to cover these stories and the public has a right to know what is happening in their backyards. … Please do not target, intimidate, humiliate or block our efforts from reporting the news during this historic time.”

SPJ has assembled a set of resources for journalists covering the protests, with tips on how to stay safe and contact information for the SPJ Legal Defense Fund and other assistance. The list of resources is at https://www.spj.org/pdf/letter-to-journos-2020-05-30.pdf.