Governments in America Seizing Journalist Devices and Records…

Recently the case of Tim Burke came to my attention. A journalist charged with no crime as of writing. His devices were seized by the FBI, harming his ability to do his job.

It’s now come to my attention that the Marion County Record had its office raided too. And it’s been reported that a co-owner died from the stress of the raid. It’s also been reported there was no probable cause affidavit attached.

Search Warrant from the raid on the Marion County Record
Search Warrant from the raid on the Marion County Record

I did reach out to the police chief there. Though other journalists from the r/journalism subreddit told me it was a pretty standard police response.

Response from Marion Police Chief Gideon Cody
Response from Marion Police Chief Gideon Cody

Generally I don’t bring non-court reporting stuff to this blog, but quite frankly throughout these last many years I’ve learned how underpaid journalists are. There are only maybe 50,000 of them according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the occupation is facing a 9% decline this decade. That pretty much means that 1 in 10 journalists is going to be losing their job this decade as the population continues to grow. There will be more and more news with less and less coverage. If you’ve ever wondered why not a single journalist seems interested in the court reporter shortage fraud, it might be because they’re overworked, underpaid, and willing to lap up whatever crap the companies in our field say. But the situation as a whole gives me a natural bias toward supporting journalists.

Of course, I leave my mind open to the possibility that journalists can use their position to facilitate crime, but given the absence of a probable cause affidavit, it’s looking less likely now. I’ll create an addendum if I learn more.

This is a concern. If everyone from small-town governments to the Feds can just come claim journalists’ stuff for “investigation,” then what good is our constitution, really? “We can violate you as much as we want, and you might win in court later, but in the interim, your mom’s dead and your life’s upended.” There were also journalists targeted during 2020, according to one article.

The satire I wrote on this issue may just come to life someday. To the extent I’m a citizen journalist that writes against powerful people, I may one day see unjust retribution. If this style of censorship comes to your municipality, please stand up against it. If the citizens don’t demand free speech, those who uphold the law have shown they don’t mind trampling it.

And when your news is only coming from government-approved sources, are you really free?


The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press issued a letter.

A court later ordered copies of the electronic records destroyed.

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