Statement on start of jury trial of Asheville Blade journalists

WASHINGTON, June 13, 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 jury trial starting Monday of North Carolina journalists Matilda Bliss and Veronica Coit. Bliss and Coit were charged with 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 is taking place this week.

“We were deeply dismayed in April by the conviction of Matilda Bliss and Veronica Coit of the citizen journalism news outlet The Asheville Blade on misdemeanor trespassing charges, and are confident that this injustice will be reversed at this week’s jury trial. Bliss and Coit were engaged in routine newsgathering on a matter of public importance on December 25, 2021, when they were reporting on the clearing by police of a local homeless encampment. Police body camera footage shows Bliss and Coit did not endanger anyone or obstruct any police activity.

“Routine newsgathering should never be treated as a crime. Local prosecutors never should have brought this case. We are glad that Bliss and Coit appealed their conviction to a jury trial and look forward to a favorable resolution of this case once a jury of their peers reviews the evidence.”

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 U.S. and worldwide.

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.

Contact: Bill McCarren, 202-662-7534 for The National Press Club

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SOURCE National Press Club

Statement on start of jury trial of Asheville Blade journalists WeeklyReviewer

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