March 18, 2020
NPPA Advocacy announcement to members:
As public officials across the country begin ordering the shutdown of “non-essential” businesses for periods of time in order to limit the spread of COVID-19, those orders may lead to confusion about their application to newsgathering by visual journalists and reporters in the field as well as to publishing operations.
While it should be readily apparent that newsgathering in the field is an essential function in conveying accurate, reliable and critical information to the public at a time of great need, we ask our members and others to urge public officials to clarify that all newsgathering, news publishing and broadcasting operations are “essential,” and just as crucial to the public welfare as grocery, pharmacy and other businesses. (See information at the bottom for how to contact your state and federal lawmakers.)
Visual journalists are on the front lines of this pandemic as they keep the public informed while simultaneously experiencing disruptions to their business. As lawmakers propose relief efforts, we ask for your help with grass-roots advocacy. Write your lawmakers now and ask for the following support:
- Visual journalists are on the front lines of this epidemic to educate the public. They must be treated as first responders.
- When lawmakers are considering legislation related to first responders, ask them to please include news photographers.
- When “shelter in place” rules limit everything but essential services, ask for journalists to be included as “essential services.”
Additionally, many independent photographers have lost significant work due to canceled events. In many cases, these are independent businesses and contractors who are not eligible for unemployment. Please include them in any financial relief packages.
Advice for visual journalists and reporters in the field:
- 1) Carry a business card.
- 2) Carry the phone number of corporate, local or NPPA counsel.
- 3) Carry a copy of an official order stating they are “essential” and therefore exempt from any travel bans or “shelter in place” orders.
NPPA Advocacy contacts:
Alicia Wagner Calzada, Esq: [email protected]
Mickey H. Osterreicher, Esq.: [email protected]
For more NPPA Advocacy Committee, view our Legal Resources.
For example, in San Francisco:
City and County of San Francisco
Department of Public Health
Order of the Health Officer
ORDER OF THE HEALTH OFFICER No. C19-07
In pertinent part section f. which states, “For the purposes of this Order, ‘Essential Businesses’ means: v. Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services." The PDF is here.
COVID-19 U.S. Dept. Homeland Security Issues Letters for Broadcasters Access & Fuel
The New York State Broadcasters Association (NYSB) is working with Governor Cuomo’s office and the New York Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Information to obtain similar letters and/or “passes” for stations. Read the information here.
UPDATE: March 18, 2020 2pm (EST)
On Twitter: @NYGovCuomo “There’s never been a more important time for New Yorkers to receive accurate, real time information & the role of the media has never been more essential. For that reason media organizations will be exempted from the 50% work reduction order.”
UPDATE: March 19, 2020 1:40pm (EST)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order Continuing Temporary Suspension and Modification of Laws Relating to the Disaster Emergency, which includes “any essential business or entity providing essential services or functions shall not be subject to the in-person restrictions. This includes … news media ….” The complete executive order is here.
Because you may have state relief as well as federal relief, NPPA recommends you contact both your state and federal lawmakers. Your representatives and their contact information can be found here.