The Mountain Advocate wrote:State Police order threatens media
A spokesperson from the Kentucky State Police (KSP) has issued an order, attempting to place demands on the Mountain Advocate and a Bell County radio station.
The order from State Police Public Affairs Officer Shane Jacobs says, “…from this point forward when KSP is working an investigation, you are to wait until OUR (KSP) press release is sent out before putting anything out on social media, radio, and newspaper. No more posting inaccurate information from Sheriff’s or anyone else.” He then threatens, “Authority of my supervisors, if this continues, you will be taken off our media distribution list.” (See below article for PDF of Jacobs’ e-mail)
In response, Mountain Advocate publisher Jay Nolan stated, “We believe our community is best served when an independent, free press works closely with all law enforcement agencies. Our mutual goal should be to keep the public fully informed and protected.” He went on to say, “For the KSP to tell us we can only report what the KSP says, when they want to say it, and we must ignore any and all other sources, that’s crazy. Any professional journalist would consider a publicly elected law enforcement professional like our Sheriff as a credible source. Sheriff Smith has 27 years of law enforcement experience, 24 of which with KSP itself. To tell us we can’t quote someone like him, or an eyewitness, or a local police chief? And, for them to threaten us with removal from their media list is at best misguided.”
The Mountain Advocate has notified the Kentucky Press Association, (KPA) about the incident. KPA attorney, Jon Fleishaker, commented, for the State Police to say it will restrict publication of information is clearly a violation of the First Amendment, adding “The officer’s threat is not acceptable.” At the Mountain Advocate’s request, the Executive Director of KPA, David Thompson, has sent a letter asking the commissioner of the KSP to overturn officer Jacobs’ order.