On behalf of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, we write today to express our support for the Marion County Record.
The recent raid on the Record newsroom by local police raises profound concerns regarding freedom of the press, a foundational pillar of our democratic society. An independent press, free from intimidation and undue interference, is an essential instrument in ensuring truth, transparency and the public’s right to know.
Our concerns echo those expressed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in their letter to Marion County officials: “Based on public reporting, the search warrant that has been published online, and your public statements to the press, there appears to be no justification for the breadth and intrusiveness of the search—particularly when other investigative steps may have been available—and we are concerned that it may have violated federal law strictly limiting federal, state, and local law enforcement’s ability to conduct newsroom searches. We urge you to immediately return the seized material to the Record, to purge any records that may already have been accessed, and to initiate a full independent and transparent review of your department’s actions.”
An independent press operates as a check and balance on the power that communities confer on their police. All actions that seek to intimidate or undermine the media’s role erode the foundations of our democracy.
Given these serious concerns, we also call for a thorough, independent and transparent investigation into the circumstances of the raid on the Marion County Record, and call for the immediate return of seized equipment and records to the newspaper.
It remains our shared responsibility to uphold the principles safeguarded in our Constitution and to defend the rights of our journalists and media organizations.
Association Manager, AAN
President, AAN Board of Directors