Press club leaders deeply disappointed with verdict in North Carolina jury trial

WASHINGTON, June 16, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Following is a statement from Eileen O’Reilly, president of the National Press Club, and Gil Klein, president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute, on the guilty verdict of journalists Matilda Bliss and Veronica Coit issued by a North Carolina jury on Friday. Bliss and Coit were charged with misdemeanor trespassing in connection with their coverage of the eviction of a homeless encampment on December 25, 2021, and were found guilty at a bench trial in April. They appealed the ruling to a jury trial that took place this week.

“While we respect the important work that juries do in our democratic system, we strongly feel this was the wrong decision. We remain deeply disappointed by the prosecution of Matilda Bliss and Veronica Coit of the citizen journalism news outlet, The Asheville Blade, on misdemeanor trespassing charges. Bliss and Coit were simply doing their jobs on December 25, 2021, when they were reporting on the clearing by local police of a local homeless encampment. Police body camera footage shows Bliss and Coit did not endanger anyone or obstruct any police activity.

“Newsgathering is not a crime, and this is a case that never should have been brought by prosecutors in the first place. Criminalizing journalism threatens the public’s ability to access the information they need in a democratic society. We condemn the prosecution of journalists for doing their jobs in Asheville, North Carolina, and we applaud Bliss and Coit for the courage they showed in fighting these spurious charges.”

Founded in 1908, the National Press Club is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists. The Club has 3,000 members representing nearly every major news organization and is a leading voice for press freedom in the United States and around the world.

The National Press Club Journalism Institute promotes an engaged, global citizenry through an independent and free press and equips journalists with the skills and standards to inform the public in ways that inspire a more representative democracy. The NPCJI is the nonprofit affiliate of the National Press Club.

Press Contact: Eileen O’Reilly, [email protected], 202-662-7517

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SOURCE National Press Club

Press club leaders deeply disappointed with verdict in North Carolina jury trial WeeklyReviewer

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