We hope you found this article interesting, enough to read to the bottom. Help us publish more in 2022.

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past two years, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

We’re on a mission to add 650 new monthly supporters to our ranks to help us have another year of impactful journalism – will you join us?

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Help us hit our year-end target of 650 new monthly supporters and join Tyee Builders today.
We’re looking for 650 new monthly supporters to fund our newsroom – are you one of them?

Small independent news media are having a moment – we’re gaining supporters, winning awards, and publishing more impactful journalism than ever. We’re starting to see glimmers of a hopeful future for independent journalism in Canada.

The Tyee works for our readers, because we are funded by you. We don’t lock our articles behind a paywall, and we focus all of our energy into publishing original, in-depth journalism that you won’t read anywhere else. It’s our full-time job because readers pay us to do it.

Over the last two years, we’ve been able to double our staff team and publish more than ever. We’re gearing up for another year and we need to know how much we are working with. Thousands of Tyee readers have signed up to support our independent newsroom through our Tyee Builders program, and we’re inviting you to join.

From now until Dec. 31, we’re aiming to bring aboard 650 new monthly supporters to The Tyee to help us do even more in 2022.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Help us hit our year-end target of 650 new monthly supporters and join Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
Get our free newsletter
Sign Up
News
  |  
Rights + Justice
  |  
Media

The Other Fight at Fairy Creek: Press Freedom

Journalists, and now a legal challenge, say the RCMP is illegally limiting media access to the demonstrations.

Amelia Williams 27 May 2021 | TheTyee.ca

Amelia Williams is a graduate student at UBC’s School of Journalism, Writing and Media. She is completing a practicum at The Tyee. Find her on Twitter @ajlwilliams13.

It’s time for the RCMP to let journalists do their job. That’s the message behind a legal challenge filed by a group of Canadian media organizations who argue that the RCMP’s enforcement of an injunction at anti-logging demonstrations on Vancouver Island is denying journalists the “substantive access” they need to report.

The challenge was announced following reports that the RCMP threatened to arrest journalists and photographers documenting the protests at Fairy Creek and Caycuse watersheds.

The police barred journalists from entering so-called “exclusion zones.” The restricted areas, established by the RCMP, change frequently and are enforced inconsistently, according to first-hand reports by journalists, who say the effect is to distance them from the action they are there to cover.

“The ability of journalists to access and report on matters of public interest receives strong protection under Canadian law,” members of the coalition, which is led by the Canadian Association of Journalists and includes a number of independent news outlets, wrote in a letter sent to the RCMP days before the challenge was filed.

“Injunctions, such as the one in place at Fairy Creek, are not intended to interfere with those legal rights and interests, and must not be enforced by the RCMP in such a way that unnecessarily prevents or impedes journalists from exercising those rights and performing their vital function,” the letter said, citing case law which states that injunctions should not prevent journalists from covering protests.

The BC Civil Liberties Association, meanwhile, has declared the exclusionary zones “unlawful” in a letter of protest sent to B.C.’s solicitor general and the RCMP deputy commissioner.

Ora Cogan is an independent photographer covering the enforcement of the injunction for Sierra Club BC. On May 24, she and Jesse Winter, a photojournalist on assignment with the Globe and Mail, were stopped by officers on a road near a camp. Officers told them they had entered an exclusion zone, and that they would be arrested if they did not leave.

Cogan called the arrest threat “illegal and ridiculous.” The RCMP tactics, she said, are “limiting not only accredited journalists, but people who work in media at any capacity, and the public. We have a right to freedom of movement.”

Although an RCMP media liaison officer eventually allowed them to return to the zone, it frustrated the photographer. “It seems like their intention was to move forward with the injunction without the accredited members of the press there,” said Cogan, who witnessed the RCMP use similar tactics at the raid on Unist’ot’en in 2020.

The Tyee reached out to Winter, who was unable to respond by press time. He has tweeted here about his encounters with the RCMP while trying to cover the protests.

The RCMP’s policy has been to corral journalists in a designated media area, where an officer told the pair “you can stay and journal all you want.” But those areas are often so far from encounters between police and protesters that journalists can’t get a good look or hear what’s being said.

In some cases, journalists have been told to stay in one designated area while arrests were happening unknown to them down the road and out of sight.

Jerome Turner is a reporter at Ricochet Media, which is part of the coalition filing the legal challenge. He described being “corralled” in a designated media area, which was about 170 feet away from where arrests were being made, so only the journalists with a telephoto lens had a chance of documenting any of the events.

“Once they do have us kennelled, they don’t let us leave without an officer with us,” he said. “And they also don’t have enough officers to do that. So to make that restriction, to make that part of their policy, it really restricts media from being able to do their job.”

More than 100 protesters have been arrested so far, and on Tuesday more than 100 seniors reportedly “overwhelmed” an exclusion zone guarded by a few RCMP officers who abandoned the site.

Turner points out all the protesters have behaved peacefully, posing no danger to journalists. But the RCMP officers are well-armed. “The only danger I can see,” said Turner of the police making arrests, “is on their right hip.”  [Tyee]

Read more: Rights + Justice, Media

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Comments that violate guidelines risk being deleted, and violations may result in a temporary or permanent user ban. Maintain the spirit of good conversation to stay in the discussion.
*Please note The Tyee is not a forum for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, denying its existence or minimizing its risk to public health.

Do:

  • Be thoughtful about how your words may affect the communities you are addressing. Language matters
  • Challenge arguments, not commenters
  • Flag trolls and guideline violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity, learn from differences of opinion
  • Verify facts, debunk rumours, point out logical fallacies
  • Add context and background
  • Note typos and reporting blind spots
  • Stay on topic

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist, homophobic or transphobic language
  • Ridicule, misgender, bully, threaten, name call, troll or wish harm on others
  • Personally attack authors or contributors
  • Spread misinformation or perpetuate conspiracies
  • Libel, defame or publish falsehoods
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities
  • Post links without providing context

LATEST STORIES

The Barometer

Tyee Poll: Are You Preparing for the Next Climate Disaster?

Take this week's poll