The Press Club of Long Island, the local pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, today condemned the Town of Oyster Bay for its handling of a public information request by a reporter this week.
Ted Phillips, a reporter for Newsday, was escorted by a police officer out of Oyster Bay Town offices Monday after he requested records from the town’s zoning board of appeals.
Click here to read the full story about the incident on Newsday.com.
Robert Freeman, the head of the New York State Office of Open Government, confirmed that the information being requested was public.
Press Club of Long Island President Chris R. Vaccaro today wrote a letter to Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto regarding the incident, which stated:
“The Press Club of Long Island, the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, strongly objects to your town’s action in having a police officer remove a Newsday reporter properly doing his job and trying to provide information for the public, especially since that information is legally available to the press and the public.
Even more troubling is the official taking the action admitted to the reporter that the information he was seeking was public. This seems to be part of an ongoing policy by the town to withhold information from the public that it deserves to have.
This is an assault on the First Amendment protection of the press and the public’s right to know. The town must take whatever measures necessary to appropriately respond to media inquiries going forward. We eagerly await your response on this matter.”
For inquiries please contact PCLI President Chris R. Vaccaro at PressClubofLI@gmail.com and 631-848-7589.