SPJ Protests Arrest of Nashville Scene Reporter

The Board of the Middle Tennessee Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists, has set a letter to Gov. Bill Haslam and Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons protesting the arrest and detention of Nashville Scene reporter Jonathan Meador early Saturday at the Legislative Plaza.
Text of the letter is below.

Deborah Fisher
President, Middle Tennessee chapter,
Society of Professional Journalists
P.O. Box 22248
Nashville, TN 37202
The Honorable Gov. Bill Haslam
1st Floor, State Capitol
Nashville, TN 37243
Bill Gibbons
Commissioner, Department of Safety and Homeland Security
P.O. BOX 945
Nashville, TN 37202
October 31, 2011
Governor Haslam and Commissioner Gibbons:
The Middle Tennessee Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the undersigned members of its board of directors write in protest to the unlawful arrest and detention of Nashville Scene reporter Jonathan Meador. The conduct of state police in this matter was outrageous, interfered with legitimate newsgathering, and clearly violated Mr. Meador’s rights as a journalist under the U.S. and Tennessee constitutions.
Mr. Meador was there on assignment to cover a matter of great public interest – an event made even more newsworthy by previous actions of the state and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Video evidence proves Mr. Meador clearly and repeatedly identified himself as a member of the news media. Working journalists should not have to risk being harassed and arrested in the course of doing their job.
We respectfully request that all charges against Mr. Meador be withdrawn and that he receive an apology from the Department of Safety and Homeland Security. We also respectfully request an independent investigation of the conduct of officers involved in Mr. Meador’s arrest and that THP personnel receive training on the constitutional rights of the media and those involved in newsgathering so that similar situations can be avoided in the future.
A prompt response to our concerns will be greatly appreciated.
Deborah Fisher, president; senior editor of news, The Tennessean
Frank Gibson, treasurer; director, Tennessee Coalition for Open Government
Joe Morris, secretary; writer/editor, Parthenon Publishing
Sharon Fitzgerald, newsletter chair; instructor, School of Journalism, MTSU
Rhori Johnston, board member; news anchor, News Channel 5
Brian Reisinger, board member; reporter, Nashville Business Journal
Blake Farmer; board member; reporter, Nashville Public Radio
Nate Rau, board member; reporter, The Tennessean
Caroline Moses, board member; investigative reporter WSMV-TV
Steve Cavendish, board member, editor, Nashville City Paper
Thom Storey, board member; chair, Media Studies Department, Belmont University
Gene Policinski, board member; executive director, First Amendment Center
Milt Capps, board member
Jimmy McCollum, board member; associate professor, Department of Communication and Journalism, Lipscomb University

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