Monday, April 20, 2020

CNN is showing anti-lockdown protests in Harrisburg (and other places); is it illegal for non-corporate media to violate stay-at-home to film these?

In various states (today its in Harrisburg PA) protesters are assembling to challenge stay-at-home orders and business closures.  True, the protests come mostly from conservative groups.

CNN has been showing the protests all day, and it raises a serious question: Can a corporate news media outlet legally break stay-at-home rules because it is an essential business, to film a possibly (right now illegal) protest (First Amendment challenges sound plausible, to me at least)?  

Presumably, an independent journalist may not, even if “they” make a living doing this. 

This video (above) was apparently filmed independently, and independent producers do license footage to each other in other states;  that is common.  The filmmaker here may be someone who lives near Harrisburg and who didn’t face any state-line travel quarantines.

Yet this sounds like a serious question in principle, given YouTube’s idea of “commercial viability” that came up last December.

I don’t intend to film protests right now because of the orders and personal safety, and I don’t make a living from it – but I can see how the latter phrase can become even more important now in tech platform policy.
It is common that only corporate media outlets have press passes to the White House and other sensitive locations, although sometimes independent journalists have been allowed – and we all know corporate media is trying to get rid of low cost competition – and YouTube seems to be trying to shed independent journalism because of advertiser preferences.
Adi Robinson in the Verge reports that Facebook is banning announcements of protests that violate social distancing rules (and I guess it stops livestreams of them – I wonder about the Harrisburg protest).

Picture: Near Harrisburg: July 2019, my trip 

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