SPJ President Condemns Government’s Seizure of AP Phone Records

The governing board of The Deadline Club, which is the New York City chapter of the  Society of Professional Journalists, voted in its board meeting tonight to support and publish the following statement by SPJ President Sonny Albarado.

Albarado condemned the government’s unwarranted intrusion into The Associated Press’ news operation in a press release on SPJ’s website tonight.

“The Justice Department’s secret acquisition of two months of the business and personal phone records of AP’s reporters and other employees is shameful and outrageous,” Albarado said.

“Attorney General Holder and President Obama have once again shown by their actions that their words about transparency and government openness are hollow,” said Albarado, city editor at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock.

“I shudder to think that, if it hadn’t been for the DOJ’s supposedly ‘strict’ rules for acquiring evidence from news organizations, AP might not have ever learned about this administration’s assault on its First Amendment rights.

“This incident proves once again the need for a federal Shield Law. Prosecutors, unlike reporters, have subpoena power to compel testimony, yet lazy prosecutors often prefer to go after reporters’ notes and records rather than do the hard investigative work to dig out information without trampling on the First Amendment.”

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org

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