Protest in downtown San Diego
Protesters march in downtown San Diego in September 2020. SB98 provides new protections for journalists covering such assemblies. Courtesy OnScene.TV

Journalists celebrated Saturday after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 98 to strengthen First-Amendment protected press freedoms.

The Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists welcomed the development, acknowledging in a statement that more than 20 journalism organizations, media unions and advocacy groups “spent months informing state legislators” of the urgent need to “safeguard press freedoms in California.”

According to the statement, there have more than 50 incidents of journalists being injured, detained or arrested over a recent 12-month period.” The SPJ chapter called SB 98 “a necessary step to safeguard coverage of demonstrations by ensuring that journalists may continue reporting in an area after an unlawful assembly has been declared.”

On Saturday, Newsom’s office announced that the governor had signed the bill, authored by State Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg.

The L.A. SPJ chapter vice president, Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins posted a thank you to McGuire on social media in response to the signing.

The organization said it plans to continue working with the existing coalition “on policies and strategies that ensure that journalists on the ground are successful in getting the story and providing critical information to the public.”

– City News Service