WOIO challenges City of Cleveland inclusion of news media in curfew orders

19 News: First. Fair. Everywhere.
19 News: First. Fair. Everywhere.(WOIO)
Updated: May. 31, 2020 at 9:08 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Throughout the day Sunday, WOIO, along with other Cleveland media outlets - were told repeatedly by Police Department representatives that there was no media waiver to the curfew whatsoever. After WOIO posted this letter and began to receive inquiries from around the country about it, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson reversed the decision to apply the curfew to news media.

The Mayor said during a teleconference at approximately 10:00 p.m. on Sunday night, “If you’re credentialed, and you’re a reporter, and you’re credentialed, and particularly if we know who you are, then you can come in and report, report on whatever you see. We have not disallowed that in the past, and we’re not disallowing that going forward.”

WOIO appreciates the Mayor’s decision to allow the media to do their jobs safely.

Vice President & General Manager Erik Schrader sent a letter at 8:03 p.m. Sunday and asked the police to add a media exemption earlier today:

"First off, I would like to thank the police department for their work during this unprecedented time.

While WOIO respects the work they are doing, we do have grave concerns about the restrictions on media movement that have been communicated to us throughout the day. We’ve been told our crews cannot be outside our own building in downtown Cleveland.

While we do not want to present a threat to public safety, it is our first amendment right – our duty – to chronicle the events of these trying times. To leave the entire downtown area without any journalistic presence doesn’t just hurt the freedom of the press, it damages the public’s right to know and the transparency of both the police department and anyone who might be out tonight.

I respectfully ask that the city – as the police departments in Los Angeles, Omaha, Minneapolis, Phoenix and a number of other cities have – to add a media exemption to tonight’s curfew effective immediately. Failing that, we’d like to embed with the police for the night. If the concern is the police won’t know where we are, we are willing to be with them throughout the night.

I hope you will strongly consider both/either of these options. Alternatives like this have been negotiated in cities from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in recent days.

Again, thank you for your work in the past few days. You are doing your jobs. Please allow us to do ours."

Erik Schrader


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