Covering Democracy: Protests, police, and the press

Jun 2023

In the summer of 2020, as social justice protests exploded across the country, police arrested more than 100 journalists covering the demonstrations and assaulted hundreds more. The frequency and intensity of these incidents threatened press freedom and undermined fundamental rights at the heart of American democracy.

A new Knight First Amendment Institute report entitled Covering Democracy: Protests, police, and the press, written by Joel Simon—founding director of the Journalism Protection Initiative at the Newmark J-School and a 2022-2023 visiting fellow at the Knight Institute—documents the escalating antagonism between the press and the police and looks at the historical and social contexts giving rise to the current situation.

The evening will kick off with an advanced screening of the Knight Institute’s soon-to-be-released short documentary film exploring the same issues, "Flashpoint: Protests, Policing, and the Press." The film features the stories of several journalists who were assaulted or arrested while reporting at protests and explores the conflict and tension experienced on the frontlines, the changing role of the press, and the hardening of attitudes among the police toward journalists.

A conversation and Q & A will follow the screening.


Opening Remarks

Graciela Mochkofsky, Newmark J-School


Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins, Society of Professional Journalists

Katy Glenn Bass, Knight First Amendment Institute

Stephanie Keith, Photojournalist

Joel Simon, Newmark J-School


Ali Velshi, MSNBC


Co-sponsored by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.

The event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to attend.

Event Contact

Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University

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