Southland journalists and journalism itself was made a little safer Saturday thanks to the hard work of activists and advocates that fought to defend First Amendment-protected press freedoms, which Gov. Gavin Newsom Saturday enshrined into law by signing Senate Bill 98.

The Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists welcomed the decision, acknowledging in a statement that it worked together with more than 20 other journalism organizations, media unions and advocacy groups to establish a coalition, which then “spent months informing state legislators” of the urgent need to “safeguard press freedoms in California.”

“Media organizations have documented more than 50 incidents of journalists being injured, detained or arrested over a 12-month period,” the statement said. “SPJ/LA viewed SB 98 as a necessary step to safeguard coverage of demonstrations by ensuring that journalists may continue reporting in an area after an unlawful assembly has been declared.”

On Saturday, Newsom’s office announced that the governor had signed SB 98, authored by State Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg.

“SPJ/LA is honored to have worked on this task with so many conscientious and free speech groups. Our chapter also wishes to thank State Sen. Mike McGuire for shepherding this bill through the legislature, ensuring it would be signed into law,” SPJ/LA Vice President Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins posted on social media in response to the signing.

The organization said it plans to “continue working with the coalition on policies and strategies that ensure that journalists on the ground are successful in getting the story and providing critical information to the public.”

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