April 19 – At least eight defendants claiming to be “journalists” or “documentary filmmakers” have been arrested this month in court records in nearly 400 cases related to unrest in the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Overseas News reported Wednesday.
Some of the defendants, who were holding cameras on the day of the riots, also argued that they were merely “recording history as journalists” rather than participating in the riots.
The defendant, Shawn Witzemann, told authorities that he was inside the Capitol at the time of the riot because it was part of his live broadcast of the protest and later argued that he had been there as a journalist. However, this explanation did not convince the FBI.
In addition, other defendants claimed that their media platform was a right-wing website or some marginalized platform.
Lucy Dalglish, a former media legal practice lawyer at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill School of Journalism, says that while the Internet gives more people a platform to speak out, the definition of “journalist” is not as broad in court practice.
Jane Kirtley, a professor at the University of Minnesota, says even documented journalists and news photographers are not immune from prosecution if they break the law at work. ” (The qualification card) is not a bail card,” Kurtley said. ”