A Case Study in Local News Futility

An analytical piece dissecting a woefully inaccurate local TV news segment.

This isn’t to say that people aren’t still being arrested for recording cops in public—in Pennsylvania or elsewhere—or that cops aren’t still threatening people who attempt to record them with cell phones or other devices. In fact, in spite of those court rulings, a Pittsburgh man was arrested just last year for recording police officers making an arrest. But his conviction was also overturned, and he’s now suing the police for violating his civil rights.

This is precisely the point WJET misses, and it’s where this particular local news reports veers from merely awful to dangerous. The law is settled in Pennsylvania. You have the right to record cops in public. The real story here is that when these arrests happen, it is the police who are violating the law, not the person holding the camera. In implying that the law isn’t yet settled, and that it may soon be illegal to record cops in Pennsylvania, WJET not only botches the facts, it spreads misinformation about a critical issue affecting the relationship between the governing and the governed—the ability to keep public safety officers transparent and accountable. —A Case Study in Local News Futility – Reason Magazine.