City of Sanford backs off threat to arrest reporters
The city of Sanford, Florida, site of the controversial shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin, announced Thursday that it would not follow through with a threat to arrest reporters who attempt to interview off-duty city employees. According to a blog post by media analyst Jim Romenesko, the city announced the new policy on Wednesday in a press release, only to retract it a day later.
The original press release, called Media Advisory Number 23, ordered “members of the media” to “refrain from approaching, phoning or emailing city employees when they are in their roles as private citizens.”
“Law enforcement officials,” it warned, “will not hesitate to make an arrest for stalking.”
“Officials gave no reason for their change of heart,” said a report at the Orlando Sentinel website, but the decision came “shortly after an attorney representing the Orlando Sentinel and WFTV-Channel 9 wrote to City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr. contending that the directive was unconstitutional.”
A Thursday press release from the city government acknowledged that Media Advisory Number 23 had overreached. “Upon reevaluation,” it read, “it is clear that portions of that Advisory were improvidently issued. The first two paragraphs of that Advisory are hereby rescinded.” It added that the city of Sanford “regrets any inconvenience caused by the improvident wording of the Advisory.”
(image via Flickr Commons)