Posts Tagged ‘oregon’

Medford officials should drop charges against reporter arrested at Hawthorne Park

Arresting reporters for doing their jobs is one of the hallmarks of a totalitarian dictatorship.

So it is disappointing to hear that a journalist covering the eviction of a homeless camp at a Medford, Ore., park was arrested while she tried to observe police actions.

April Ehrlich, a reporter with Jefferson Public Radio, and vice president of the SPJ Oregon pro chapter, was among 11 people arrested at Hawthorne Park Sept. 22.

Ehrlich was cited for trespassing, interfering with police and resisting arrest.

I join with SPJ Oregon in calling for Medford city officials to withdraw the charges and to review the actions of police that day in the park, as well as take steps to ensure that officers respect First Amendment rights.

She had gone to the park to cover the city’s eviction of homeless people camping at the park. This happened at the time the Almeda Fire had ravaged the area, and one of the things Ehrlich was there to find out was if any of the people at the homeless camp had fled the fire.

While interviewing people, she was arrested by several police officers, despite her identifying herself as a journalist and, according to JPR, not interfering with the evacuation order.

City officials claim that the park was closed and Ehrlich refused to go to a media staging area when ordered to do so. But the staging area, according to JPR, was at a place where journalists could neither see nor hear what was going on, nor could they talk to the people being evicted.

Journalists serve as witnesses to give the public the information they need to hold government accountable. It is a little hard to do that from a staging area that is far removed from what public servants are doing in the name of the people.

Ehrlich and other legal observers were in a place where they could best see what was happening, and could accurately, if they had been allowed, to say how the eviction was handled. Corralling the press to a place where they couldn’t see the action, and arresting those who could does little, if nothing, to inspire confidence that the eviction was handled in a legal, humane and dignified manner.

The mere fact that Ehrlich was arrested throws what happened in the park into serious question.

Again, I urge Medford city officials to drop the charges against Ehrlich and other legal observers, and commit to being more transparent.

Celebrate Open Records Victories with SPJ Oregon

This t-shirt features the text of the First Amendment on the back. This item and many others are up for auction to support SPJ Oregon’s ongoing open records reform efforts.  

The Oregon Territory chapter has done some excellent work this year towards reforming Oregon’s open records laws. To celebrate, the chapter is throwing a Victory Party on Tuesday, September 26 at Kell’s Irish Pub in Portland. The event will also serve as a fundraiser to help support the chapter’s ongoing efforts in open records legislative reform.

You can bid on some sweet items, including Portland Timbers tickets, wine, gift baskets, and more at SPJ Oregon’s Facebook page through Monday, September 26, but final bids take place at the event.

If you want to help but can’t make the event, the chapter is always accepting donations. SPJ Oregon has raised more than $1,700 for this cause. Let’s see if we can get them to their $10,000 goal. Donate here.

To read a recap of why the chapter is celebrating (seriously, its members have had won some big battles in open government reforms), read this SPJ Oregon blog post.


Oregon Editor-Publisher Wins Gish Award for Courage, Integrity, Tenacity in Rural Journalism

Samantha Swindler, the publisher and editor of the weekly Headlight Herald in Tillamook, Oregon, is the winner of the 2010 Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, integrity and tenacity in rural journalism.


Congratulations to our 2009 NW Excellence in Journalism Contest winners!

This year our 2009 NW Excellence in Journalism Contest brought in 2,500 entries from Region 10, including entries from Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. The entries were submitted online for the first time this year, and judged online as well by journalists around the country. It was a big effort, but well worth it to be able to honor the very best in journalist in our corner of the world.

For those of you who were not able to attend the Portland or Seattle chapters’ May 22 awards banquets, or who belong to a chapter that doesn’t host an awards ceremony, we are pleased to be able to share the winners of this year’s Region 10 SPJ contest with you.

Download the winners here!

Congratulations to all of those who submitted entries this year! We are honored to work along side you!


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