SPJ Investigating Effect of Chester County (PA) Gag Order on News Reporting

The Society of Professional Journalists is asking reporters in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to help it determine the impact of a gag order issued by county government in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Here is the text of an email sent to SPJ members.

Dear SPJ members in Pennsylvania and New Jersey,

The Society of Professional Journalists is concerned about a new government gag policy in Chester County, Pennsylvania, that forbids county employees from providing any information they learn on the job to anyone else. We would like to find out whether this policy has affected any of our members by making their reporting more difficult or limiting the information they could gather.

Please let us know if you have tried to contact any Chester County employee since December 2020, when the new policy was passed. If so, please answer the following questions and send your response to SPJ Freedom of Information Committee member Kathryn Foxhall.

1. Were you able to speak with them?

2. Did they decline to talk to you, or insist on anonymity?

3. Did they refer to county policy?

4. Do you believe the policy has affected your reporting or hindered your ability to gather information?

We are working with the Yale Law School Clinic on this project. The clinic and SPJ will keep all replies confidential unless we get further permission from you.

Please direct questions to Foxhall or call her at (202) 417-4572.

Thank you for your time and assistance!

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