NFOIC condemns search of Marion newspaper, calls for disclosure

The National Freedom of Information Coalition calls on authorities in Marion, Kansas, to immediately disclose why, and how they justify, the alarming seizure of computers, cellphones and other reporting materials from journalists at the Marion County Record on Friday. Newsgathering is protected by the First Amendment, and federal law prohibits law enforcement from searching and seizing the work product of journalists except in very limited circumstances. Without disclosure through court records, which should be open to the public, about a suspected crime, the public is left to wonder why police were compelled to take such extraordinary and troubling measures – raiding the newspaper’s office and the home of its publisher. These types of extreme actions restrict the free flow of information and discourage sources from sharing material of public importance with news organizations. There must be a thorough accounting of how and why this happened.