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NPR Journalist Shadowing Cleveland High GSA Fired

Lawmakers Claim They Didn't Know She Was Recording

March 26, 2017   Comments

Photojournalist Jen Sheridan was at Legislative Plaza on March 7th on behalf of O&A, covering state government committee hearings and a Tennessee Equality Project press conference. Sheridan said the press conference, held in a public hallway outside the Plaza's cafeteria, was surprisingly well attended by media. This is not always the case for LGBT issues at Legislative Plaza, and Sheridan took a quick photo with her phone to document that so many from the press had shown interest.

One member of the press that was present was Jacqui Helbert, seen here in the foreground wearing a blue and pink plaid shirt. It's been widely reported that Helbert was fired from University of Tennessee's NPR affiliate WUTC last week, after publishing a piece that included quotes from Sen. Mike Bell and Rep. Kevin Brooks regarding the anti-trans bathroom bill.

On the same day as the press conference, Bell and Brooks held separate meetings with a group of Cleveland High School students, and have allegedly said they didn't realize Helbert, who was shadowing the students that day, was with the press. 

Jacqui Helbert WUTC PHOTO 1 sm.jpg

(photo provided by Jen Sheridan)

Given the big microphone she was holding, and the large earphones she was wearing (both seen in the photo), as well the WUTC-logo'd bag she carried, and the radio station press pass around her neck, Helbert has been quoted as saying she didn't think it was necessary to formally identify herself as media to the lawmakers, and recorded what was stated openly about LGBT issues to the visiting students.

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