Webinar explores hot topic of detained journalists

For the third year in a row, SPJ Florida hosted an educational webinar touching on hot topics in journalism. This year’s webinar topic was “Detainment: Journalists Rights, Do’s and Don’ts” presented April 23 in a panel discussion format. A local chapter of the National Press Photographers Association partnered with SPJ Florida for the webinar.

Photo above: From the left, panelist Cody Weddle, Nick Swyter, Sarah Matthews and Mickey Osterreicher. Supplied photo

By Christiana Lilly, SPJ Florida president and freelance journalist

The event was timely after one American multimedia journalist was detained and deported back to the United States in March.

The panel included Cody Weddle, who was detained in Venezuela; Sarah Matthews, a staff attorney at the Reporters Committee for Press Freedom; Nick Swyter, a journalism program associate with the Knight Foundation; and Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel at NPPA. Suzette Speaks from the Fort Lauderdale Law Group moderated the panel.

NPPA Southeast Region Assistant Director Zak Bennett, a freelance photojournalist, had also been detained twice last year. Photo right: Zak Bennett LinkedIn photo

“I don’t think this webinar could have come at a better time, with our current political climate, and I think it was the beginning of a much larger conversation to come and awakened awareness and preparedness among our community.”

Zak Bennett, freelance photojournalist and NPPA Southeast Assistant Director

Weddle wrote in an email to SizingUpTheSouth.com that he thinks journalists will continue to be targeted and detainment will escalate as the world becomes more polarized.

“Newsrooms and reporters should have a plan and be prepared to deal with this,” Weddle said.  “We should know our legal options in the country where we’re working and be quick to put them to use.”

Unfortunately, due to a technical error, the webinar was not recorded. However, the panelists all provided guides and important links that journalists can refer to:



  • Mickey Osterreicher, lawyer@nppa.org Twitter: @nppalawyer
  • Sarah Matthews, Twitter: @sarahfreepress
  • Nick Swyter, Twitter: @nickswyter
  • Cody Weddle, Twitter: @coweddle

SPJ Florida has also hosted webinars for journalists who are covering the Black Lives Matter movement and the impact of the #MeToo movement in newsrooms.

Christiana Lilly is a journalist based out of South Florida, covering the gamut in content from national politics, LGBT news, Florida’s restaurant and bar scene, to Miami society. Lilly is also the president of SPJ Florida. Christiana.Lilly@gmail.com

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