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RTNDA president asks Scalia to reverse exclusion of electronic journalists from covering his public events

The Radio-Television News Directors Association has asked Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to reverse his policy of excluding electronic journalists from coverage of his public appearances.

In a letter to Scalia, RTNDA president Barbara Cochran thanked him for apologizing to reporters whose tape recordings of his speech were destroyed but implored him to give radio and television reports the same consideration he gives the print media.

“I am deeply disturbed by your decision, disclosed today, to allow newspaper reporters to use their electronic recording devices while continuing to prohibit television and radio journalists from using theirs,” wrote Cochran. “Your policy of excluding electronic media from your public appearances has been extremely troubling to our members for years, but this decision compels us to protest in the strongest possible terms.

“You have written that you will allow newspaper reporters to use their recording devices to assure the accuracy of their stories,” the letter continues. “Surely, television and radio reporting should be just as accurate. One of the reasons that the public turns to television and radio for its news is because they can see and hear for themselves exactly what took place. To exclude television cameras and audio recording is the equivalent of taking away pencil and paper from print reporters. Your policy puts television and radio journalists at a distinct disadvantage….

“In short, we find it very hard to understand how a public official charged with protecting such safeguards of our democracy as freedom of the press would choose to impede effective reporting without sufficient justification. We believe this policy discriminates against television and radio journalists, fosters less accurate reporting, and undermines the principle at the very core of the First Amendment, that people will have the information that enables them to judge government and those in government. We fervently hope that you will reconsider and begin admitting television and radio journalists to events that are open to the public and to the print news media.”

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