Statement for Rio Grande Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists

Re: APD public criticism of local news media

The Albuquerque Police Department public information office, which is resorting to more direct social media feeds and bypassing journalists in the process, this week called KOB TV “irresponsible” for obtaining video of a police crash and sharing the footage.

The local chapter of SPJ takes exception to this specific criticism and this general trend in which APD has made critical statements against the media.

KOB obtained the video legitimately and had every right to use it. The police department has a lot of gall to ask for what amounts to a favor from the media after consistently showing so much disrespect for our critical role in society and for the people we’re working to inform and educate. The video showed a crash involving a public employee that led to serious injuries. Broadcasting such a video is in the public interest.

The Albuquerque Police Department’s record on transparency would be laughable if it didn’t have such a serious impact on the people it purports to serve. The department frequently withholds recordings made by its own officers as it sees fit, releasing video and other public records only if they serve the interests of APD and its administrators. Public records requests are routinely delayed for months, or worse, simply ignored. This is against the law. That APD would have the temerity to demand that a news organization release video not yet obtained by the department despite its considerable resources is an insult.

The APD is free to tweet and post whatever they like, but resorting to social media and bypassing journalists is a practice our chapter opposes because it cuts out the role of journalists — who are stand ins for the public — to ask questions of powerful officials about policies, news, etc. That’s propaganda, not transparency.

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