May. 2, 2021  

SPJ Florida board: Allow journalists access to public meetings

SPJ Florida is joining with the First Amendment Foundation in calling for council members in a South Florida city to allow journalists to attend public meetings. 

Tony Winton, editor-in-chief of The Key Biscane Independent, was kicked out of a public meeting on April 6. Some council members asked why he couldn’t remain, and others cited “safety” issues during COVID — despite the fact that Winton was wearing a mask and socially distant from the council. 

SPJ Florida wrote to the mayor and other council members calling for them to reverse that decision and allow members of the media to attend public meetings, as is their right. After receiving letters from SPJ Florida and the First Amendment Foundation, The Key Biscane Independent wrote, the council planned to discuss changing its practices. But at the time of publication, journalists were still unable to attend public meetings.

The Village of Key Biscane Council is violating Florida’s Sunshine Law and the U.S. Constitution. We — and undoubtedly the citizens the council represents — demand better. 

Read SPJ Florida’s full letter to the council below. 

April 26, 2021

Dear Mayor Davey and Village of Key Biscayne councilmembers,

We at the Society of Professional Journalists Florida Pro Chapter are writing in support of recent calls for public access at Village Council meetings.

SPJ Florida stands with the First Amendment Foundation in its call for adherence to the Sunshine Law and the need for full transparency at meetings of elected officials.

We were disappointed to learn that the council prevented Tony Winton, editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent, from attending a meeting of the Village Council on April 6. 

Our organization believes that a free press is essential to Democracy and the participation of citizens who deserve – and demand – a government body that operates in the sunshine.

Anything less, including hybrid meetings with closed doors, is a disservice to the very people who elected you, Mayor Davey and councilmembers Moss, Lauredo, London, McCormick, Caplan, and Segurola.

Even more concerning is the news that councilmembers scheduled another “hybrid” meeting for April 27, even after the First Amendment Foundation informed the mayor that closed-door meetings are a violation of Florida’s Sunshine Law and the U.S. Constitution.

We urge you to respect the rights of Key Biscayne residents and reporters. 

We also respect the need for precautions during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Opening the chambers to public participation does not exclude the council from instituting safety measures, including mask requirements and temperature checks.


Emily Bloch
President, SPJ Florida Pro Chapter
The Society of Professional Journalists Florida Pro Chapter Board


Emily Bloch, president

Cassidy Alexander, vice president

Lulu Ramadan, VP of programming

Kristen Grau, VP of membership

Sommer Brugal, secretary

Michael Koretzky, treasurer

Christiana Lilly, past president



Anthony Austin

Hannah Lee

Christopher Persaud

Carina Mask

Percy Mercer

Giuseppe Sabella

Jordan Lewis, student rep


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