National Press Club

National Press Club Protests Subpoenaing of Indiana Reporter

April 13, 2015 | By John M. Donnelly |

Emily Pfund, reporter for The Elkhart Truth

Emily Pfund, reporter for The Elkhart Truth

Photo/Image: Elkhart Truth

The National Press Club strongly protested on Monday an Indiana prosecutor’s subpoenaing of a newspaper reporter and her notes and recordings.

The Elkhart County chief deputy prosecutor issued an order on April 8 for Elkhart Truth crime and courts reporter Emily Pfund to testify at a hearing, scheduled for Monday, and to surrender her notes and recordings from interviews with, or relating to, Freddie Rhodes, according to an Elkhart Truth report.

Rhodes is accused of felony murder, charges that stemmed from a 2014 alleged attempted drug robbery, though he is not accused of committing the killing. Pfund's reporting indicated that Rhodes was interrogated by deputies while he was medically unable to consent.

The newspaper has vowed to contest the subpoena. Indiana has a shield law that states journalists "shall not be compelled to disclose in any legal proceedings or elsewhere the source of any information procured" as part of their official reporting duties.

"We are very concerned about the subpoenaing of Emily Pfund,” said NPC President John Hughes. “We share the Elkhart Truth’s concerns that if this order is not quickly quashed, it could send the troubling message to the public and future sources that they cannot expect journalists to be allowed to remain independent of official criminal investigations. Such an outcome could have a detrimental effect on reporters' ability to obtain and publish information that is in the public interest."

The National Press Club's Press Freedom Committee speaks out on press freedom and transparency issues. The NPC, established in 1908 and based in Washington, D.C., is the world's leading professional organization for journalists.