RTDNA joins fight for news media access to migrant detention centers

June 22, 2018 11:47

The RTDNA Voice of the First Amendment Task Force today joined the National Press Photographers Association in calling on the U.S. government to grant access to photojournalists at migrant detention facilities.
In a statement issued earlier this week, the NPPA said, “On all issues, especially an important issue such as this, the public has a right to and a need for independent, verified visual journalism – not government-controlled images.”
Further, RTDNA’s task force is calling on the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services and any other government agency involved in detention of migrants who have been taken into custody under the administrations so-called “zero-tolerance” immigration policy at our southern border, to allow all journalists greater access to the facilities nationwide.
So far, such access has been limited to pool reports or other select journalists with no cameras in tow. The only images that have been available to the public are those created and distributed by the government.
“Journalists are the eyes and ears of the American people, who need to be able to see video and other images from sources independent of the U.S. government, to know what federal officials are doing in their name. It is hard to imagine an issue where that is more important at this moment in our nation’s history than this,” said Dan Shelley, RTDNA Executive Director.
RTDNA believes that responsible journalists have an obligation to seek and report the truth in a manner consistent with its Code of Ethics, the pertinent portion of which reads:
Journalism provides enormous benefits to self-governing societies. In the process, it can create inconvenience, discomfort and even distress. Minimizing harm, particularly to vulnerable individuals, should be a consideration in every editorial and ethical decision. (Emphasis added.)
Additionally, RTDNA has published coverage guidelines to help journalists make conscientious decisions regarding the coverage of juveniles. “Obviously, journalists must take great care to protect the privacy and sensitivities of all vulnerable people, most especially juveniles. There is no question that if granted access to the U.S. government’s migrant detention facilities, responsible journalists would respect their privacy and act in a professional matter that would not make their current situation any worse,” Shelley said.
RTDNA formed the nonpartisan Voice of the First Amendment Task Force to defend against threats to the First Amendment and news media access, and to help the public better understand why responsible journalism is essential to their daily lives. Reach out to RTDNA by emailing pressfreedom@rtdna.org.