NewsGuild (formerly Newspaper Guild) president Bernie Lunzer has blasted the Elkhart County (Ind.) Prosecutor’s Office for demanding Elkhart Truth reporter Emily Pfund’s notes and recordings related to her story about a murder investigation.
Lunzer warns Curtis Hill: “If you continue this ill-advised pursuit, expect to feel the combined weight upon you of the nation’s journalists, media organizations and free press activists.” His letter:
April 10, 2015
Curtis T. Hill, Prosecuting Attorney
Vicki Becker, Chief Deputy
Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, Elkhart County 301 S. Main St., Suite 100
Elkhart, IN 46516
Dear Mr. Hill and Ms. Becker,
On behalf of the 25,000 members of The NewsGuild-CWA, the union, until recently known as The Newspaper Guild-CWA, that has been representing professional journalists since 1933, I am writing to condemn your reckless, unconstitutional and shameful misconduct toward Elkhart Truth reporter Emily Pfund.
We call on you to rescind immediately your subpoena for Ms. Pfund’s testimony and her notes and other materials stemming from an interview with an inmate who accuses authorities of interrogating him under duress while needing medical care for a concussion and broken nose.
If you are genuinely concerned about the abuse-of-power allegations that Ms. Pfund’s interview raised, you can follow up with inmate Freddie Rhodes, with the police officers involved, and with the medical personnel who treated Mr. Rhodes’ injuries.
Instead, your pursuit of Ms. Pfund suggests a chilling attempt to punish her and the newspaper for publishing Mr. Rhodes’ charges, and to silence further such reporting. And it is not just the journalists’ First Amendment rights that are at stake. Your community has a fundamental right to know what its elected and appointed officials are doing, as well as the right and responsibility to hold those officials accountable.
If you continue this ill-advised pursuit, expect to feel the combined weight upon you of the nation’s journalists, media organizations and free press activists.
Bernie Lunzer, President
501 Third St. NW
Washington DC 20001