Media groups file motion in Miss. TV station case

By The Associated Press

JACKSON — About three dozen news organizations and media trade associations have asked the Mississippi Supreme Court to let them file legal papers in support of a Hattiesburg television station’s contention that it should be allowed to broadcast video it acquired of alleged abuse at the local juvenile detention center.

The motion was filed Thursday in Jackson. The Supreme Court has not ruled on the request.

On Wednesday, the justices gave the Forrest County Youth Court until Tuesday to respond to the complaint filed by television station WDAM-TV.

WDAM on Jan. 13 asked the Supreme Court to lift the injunction on its broadcast ordered by Youth Court Judge Mike McPhail. McPhail ruled WDAM failed to provide evidence of a need in showing the video.

The news organizations — including The Association Press, The New York Times, Washington Post and the Mississippi Association of Broadcasters — say in their motion that if McPhail’s ruling is permitted to stand, “the decision would support imposing prior restraints on journalists and media outlets throughout Mississippi and, to the degree the decision is relied upon by courts in other jurisdictions as persuasive authority, throughout the United States.”

“Such a result would be without precedent or justification, and would handicap movants’ ability to investigate and publish truthful, lawfully obtained information concerning matters of significant public concern, particularly matters involving alleged official misconduct at publicly funded correctional institutions,” the motion says.

WDAM has reported that a former employee of the detention center said the video shows alleged abuse of juveniles at the hands of guards. The station has reported that the sheriff’s office confirms one guard was fired in 2009 for beating a juvenile, but so far no charges have been filed.

WDAM contends McPhail’s order is an “unconstitutional prior restraint” on its ability to “publish truthful information of public significance.”

The station says neither the youth court nor the state has shown any reason to stop WDAM’s use of the video.

McPhail had said the video would jeopardize juvenile privacy, while WDAM said privacy will be protected.

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Here’s the list of news organizations and media trade associations that have asked the Mississippi Supreme Court to let them file legal papers in support of a Hattiesburg television station’s contention that it should be allowed to broadcast video it acquired of alleged abuse at the local juvenile detention center.

The groups are:

— Mississippi Association of Broadcasters

— Mississippi Center for Freedom of Information

— Mississippi Press Association

— A.H. Belo Corporation.

— Allbritton Communications Company.

— ALM Media, LLC.

— Atlantic Media Company.

— The Associated Press.

— Belo Corp.

— Cable News Network, Inc.

— CBS Broadcasting Inc.

— Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

— The E.W. Scripps Company.

— Forbes LLC.

— Gannett Co., Inc.

— Harman Newsweek LLC.

— Hearst Corporation

— Home Box Office, Inc.

— LIN Television Corporation

— Media General Operations, Inc.

— Meredith Corporation

— NBC Universal, Inc.

— The New York Times Company

— NPR, Inc.

— The Radio Television Digital News Association

— The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

— The Society of Professional Journalists

— Time Inc.

— Tribune Company

— The Washington Post