NewsGuild-CWA and National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-CWA (NABET-CWA), which represent 30,000 reporters, photographers, and broadcast employees, are praising a bill filed in the Senate by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) last week that would make it a federal crime to assault a journalist. A similar bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Eric Swalwell of California in February.
"Journalists put themselves in danger in order to keep Americans and the world informed," said NewsGuild-CWA President Bernie Lunzer. "The Journalist Protection Act deserves the support of everyone who believes our democracy depends on a free and vibrant press."
The bill comes just days after several reporters were barred from a public meeting convened by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt addressing harmful water contaminants. Security officers grabbed a reporter for the Associated Press by the shoulders and shoved her forcibly out of the EPA building after she asked to speak to an EPA public-affairs representative, the AP reported.
Charlie Braico, president of NABET-CWA, 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."