NewsGuild-CWA and NABET-CWA are praising a bill filed Monday that would address a critical workplace safety concern by making it a federal crime to assault a journalist.
The Journalist Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, addresses a real need, said NewsGuild President Bernie Lunzer.
"This is a dangerous time to be a journalist," Lunzer said. "At least 44 reporters were physically attacked in the U.S. last year and angry rhetoric that demonizes reporters persists. The Journalist Protection Act deserves the support of everyone who believes our democracy depends on a free and vibrant press."
Charlie Braico, president of NABET-CWA, said NABET's members are "easy and tempting prey for anti-media extremists and thieves" because they often work in the field alone or with just one other person. They also carry equipment that's expensive and cumbersome, he said.
"The Journalist Protection Act will permit the authorities to properly punish people who attempt to interfere with our members as they work in dynamic and challenging newsgathering situations," Braico said.
The bill would make it a federal crime to intentionally cause bodily injury to a journalist engaged in reporting or with the intention of intimidating the journalist or impeding newsgathering. It calls for punishment of up to six years in prison.