NJ-SPJ President Burns: NJ-SPJ supports the Jersey City Times

The New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists is fully supporting the Jersey City Times in its lawsuit against Jersey City, its mayor and his press secretary.

On Monday, the online publication and its founder, Aaron Morrill, filed a federal lawsuit against Mayor Steven Fulop, press secretary Kimberly Wallace-Scalicione and the city, accusing them of violating its constitutional rights. In the complaint, the outlet said it was blacklisted after a May 2021 article criticizing the mayor’s record on public safety.

“After the story, it was radio silence. We received no media advisories, press releases, nothing. It was as if we didn’t exist. For close to a year, we were completely cut off,” Morrill said for an article on the website.

The Times, through public record requests, learned that Fulop – who is a Democratic candidate for governor in 2025 – dismissed the outlet as “yellow journalism,” “not a real news outlet,” and “not a legitimate news source.” The Times, a member of the New Jersey Press Association, along with Morrill, is being represented by Yale Law School’s Media Freedom & Information Access Clinic and Somerset-based law firm Weissman & Mintz.

“The decision of who covers an elected official belongs in the newsroom, not city hall,” said NJ-SPJ President P. Kenneth Burns. “We fully support the Jersey City Times in their lawsuit against the city government and officials that they hold accountable.”

Burns also expressed concern about what Fulop would do if elected governor.

“Should the mayor be elected governor, he will have reporters from national newsrooms keeping an eye on him, not just ones from New Jersey, New York or Philadelphia,” he adds. “If a much larger outlet publishes a critical story of him, what will happen? Now is the time for all newsrooms to send a message to Mr. Fulop that if he wanted to pick which reporters covered a story, he should’ve gone into journalism, not government.”

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