In a recent federal court ruling, it was re-confirmed that First Amendment protections are not exclusive to officially recognized journalists but extend to anyone engaged in journalistic activities.
This represents a notable victory for citizen journalists and advocates of free expression and institutional accountability.
One such citizen journalist is Justin Pulliam, who is currently suing the Fort Bend County, Texas, sheriff’s department. The conflict stemmed from an incident when Pulliam, who films and uploads public interest activities such as police interactions on his YouTube channel, Corruption Report, was ejected from a press conference in July 2021 – he was deemed “not media.”
Later that year, he was arrested while capturing footage of police interaction with an individual experiencing a mental health crisis.
This case not only highlights the potential dangers of defining journalists as a special class but also the impossibility of the government being the final authority on what constitutes a journalist….