In North Dakota, Journalists Rally Against Bill that Would End Public Disclosure of 9-1-1 Calls

By Andrew Gauthier 

Journalists in North Dakota are rallying against a proposed bill that would  require news outlets to obtain a written release to use 9-1-1 recordings.

Four Republican legislators are backing the bill, saying that the public disclosure of 9-1-1 calls is a violation of privacy and can lead to the victimization of the people recorded.

“In the case of a death or in the case of a murder, without having the victim’s approval, I think it allows them to be even further victimized,” Rep. Todd Porter told Fargo’s The Forum.


Journalists across the state, including members of the North Dakota Newspaper Association, are trying to stop the bill, arguing that the disclosure of 9-1-1 recordings allows them to better cover news stories as well as hold public agencies accountable.

Paul Jurgens, news director for Fargo radio station KFGO, said that the state’s news agencies have always used 9-1-1 recordings responsibly.

“I’ve been here in the state 30 years, and I don’t recall it ever being a problem. The media is very selective when we request them,” he said.