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SPJ Supports Gagged California Newspaper Through Amicus Brief


For Immediate Release

Dave Aeikens, SPJ President, (320) 255-8744, daeikens@stcloud.gannett.com
Julie Kay, SPJ Legal Defense Fund Committee Chairwoman, (954) 468-2622, Julie.Kay@incisivemedia.com
Scott Leadingham, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 927-8000 ext. 211, sleadingham@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists is coming to the defense of The Orange County Register by signing on to an amicus brief challenging a gag order against the paper.

Orange County Superior Court Judge David Velasquez issued an order Sept. 19 that prevents The Register from reporting testimony by witnesses in a class action lawsuit brought against the paper’s parent company, Freedom Communications, Inc. The lawsuit concerns the pay and unreimbursed costs of paper carriers.

In response to the gag order, the newspaper has filed a petition with the California Court of Appeals. The amicus brief is being filed in support of the newspaper’s appeal. It argues that the order is an unlawful prior restraint under the law, is at odds with the historical purposes of the First Amendment and creates a de facto way of suppressing unpopular speech.

“This is a clear case of prior restraint. We urge the judge to rethink this decision so journalists at The Register can perform their constitutionally protected duties,” said SPJ President Dave Aeikens. “There’s also the issue of a glaring oversight in that other media outlets aren’t gagged. The paper just wants to report the news, which has no bearing on a lawsuit against its parent company.”

Aside from SPJ, a number of other journalism and First Amendment-advocacy organizations have signed on to the brief, including the California Newspaper Publishers Association; the Associated Press; the E.W. Scripps Company, Bloomberg News, L.P.; the American Society of Newspaper Editors; Cable News Network, Inc.; and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

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. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.


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