The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, December 03, 2019 7:30 pm

Governor's media cease-and-desist draws rebuke

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – A rare maneuver by Gov. Eric Holcomb is drawing criticism, after he issued a cease-and-desist letter to two news organization following a critical report.

It is the only time his administration has sent such a request, though his campaign did so in October on a separate matter.

The Indiana Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists posted an open letter to Holcomb Tuesday deriding the cease-and-desist request.

“Our organization, which represents professional journalists throughout Indiana, feels this move is a threat to press freedom,” the letter said. “In our view, your cease-and-desist letters, issued on Nov. 29, are designed to intimidate reporters and journalists looking into your administration. The letters also add to the overall climate in the nation that looks to undermine the credibility of journalists and media outlets.”

The SPJ letter also said “Indiana Pro SPJ stands behind the efforts of local and national journalism outlets to report issues of public importance and hold leaders accountable. If there are disputes over accuracy, there are ways to address those concerns without issuing a cease-and-desist order."

Holcomb sent the letter Friday to the Indianapolis Star and Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting. Reveal wrote the story about Amazon being cleared of responsibility for a warehouse worker's death despite initial findings of four major safety violations. Holcomb and his administration are accused of working to help clear Amazon due to being in the running for a new headquarters.

The Indianapolis Star ran the story prominently.

Holcomb said he felt compelled to issue the letter.

“I will not let the false accusations about Indiana state employees and me stand,” he said.

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