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California freelancer receives Legal Defense Fund grant

For Immediate Release

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists, the nation’s most broad-based journalism advocacy organization, has provided a California TV freelance photographer $1,000 toward his fight to keep his tapes from the government.

Josh Wolf could face jail time as soon as today. A federal judge has ordered Wolf to hand over video footage of a clash between San Francisco police and demonstrators.

Wolf was covering a protest July 8, 2005, in San Francisco’s Mission District when a San Francisco police car was set on fire. Some of Wolf’s footage was shown on a local television station. The government wants his tapes because they say the footage is necessary to prosecute the demonstrators.

The Legal Defense Fund grant, which was awarded Wednesday, will help Wolf pay his legal bills as he fights to stay out of jail.

“This is an important case which underscores the need for legislation to protect journalists,” said David Carlson, SPJ president. “SPJ has been working to pass a federal shield law that would protect journalists from being compelled to testify, produce their notes or turn over footage that never aired.”

The Society’s Legal Defense Fund is a unique account that can be tapped for providing journalists with legal or direct financial assistance. Application to the fund is approved by either a three-person committee or the national board, depending on the level of assistance sought.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.


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