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Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal

Abstract

A journalist at a news scene, such as the site of a car accident with trapped victims, may be denied access by police officer who believes the journalist's presence will hinder his performance. In such situations, the journalist's interest in access to obtain news and the officer's interest in performing official duties are in conflict. This conflict is analyzed in the author's discussion of New Jersey v. Lashinsky where a news photographer refused to leave a news scene at an officer's request and was prosecuted and convicted for interference. The author argues that the New Jersey Supreme Court improperly upheld Lashinsky's conviction. He points out that Lashinsky's conduct is constitutionally protected and would not amount to "interference" under a constitutionally drafted interference statute. In demonstrating that Lashinsky was decided wrongly, the author argues the need for further news-gathering right protections in the form of properly drafted interference statutes and police guidelines that recognize journalists' interest in news-gathering.

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