The NewsGuild-CWA and NABET-CWA are renewing support for the Journalist Protection Act, introduced this week in the Senate by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and in the House by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.). The legislation was originally filed in 2018.
"American journalists are facing assaults, threats, intimidation, and even murder simply for fulfilling their First Amendment duties by reporting the news," said NewsGuild President Bernie Lunzer. "The Journalist Protection Act strengthens the free press that's essential to our democracy."
The bill would make it a federal crime to intentionally cause bodily injury to a journalist engaged in reporting news, or with the intention of intimidating the journalist or impeding news gathering. The term "Journalist" would include reporters, producers, news gathering crews, and photographers. The bill calls for punishment of up to six years in prison for convicted offenders.
"Now more than ever, our industry needs the Journalist Protection Act to ensure both our members and their equipment have an extra layer of defense from attacks," said Charlie Braico, president of NABET-CWA. "It's also another way of saying in these turbulent times that yes, the First Amendment matters – and it's worth protecting."