Athens, GA – Under the guise of developing "ethics," "fairness," and "accreditation," Georgia House Bill 734 is nothing but a blatant attempt to threaten the news media while abridging free speech and freedom of the press. It would also compel the misappropriation of photographs, footage and the written word from hardworking journalists and media companies. The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) asserts such a law would be in clear violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, U.S. Copyright laws, the Privacy Protection Act of 1980 and the Georgia Shield Law.
Ironically, the bill calls for the creation of an ethics board to be housed at the University of Georgia-Athens’ Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, where NPPA is headquartered. We have confirmed that the bill was introduced without their knowledge or approval.
Robust codes of ethics — including NPPA’s and SPJ’s — have existed for decades and are widely accepted as industry standards. No agent of any government should play any role in setting ethical or accreditation standards for journalism.
Given the nature of the bill, as well as the abrupt resignation of its author from the Georgia General Assembly, NPPA will vigilantly monitor its unlikely progress.
We implore lawmakers of both parties to support journalism by respecting the role of journalists as the Fourth Estate, driven by a sense of duty to shine light on our society to inform, uplift, inspire and expose conduct that harms people and democracy.
Michael P. King
National Press Photographers Association
120 Hooper Street
Athens, GA 30602