Today the NPPA joined Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and 20 partner organizations launched a campaign to encourage voters to ask their congressional candidates in the United States midterm elections where they stand on press freedom. The campaign seeks to galvanize the American public in protecting and defending the First Amendment.
Reporters Without Borders, or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Paris that conducts political advocacy on issues relating to freedom of information and freedom of the press.
“NPPA is proud to join this campaign that emphasizes the American ideal of a free and unencumbered press to vigorously seek and report information,” said NPPA President Michael P. King. “We need politicians in our country who will lead by example, respecting the role of the news media in a democracy, and rapidly toning-down the rhetoric that has resulted in the Fourth Estate being lambasted as the ‘enemy of the people.’ The physical safety of our colleagues has become increasingly compromised. We believe that citizens and officials of all political persuasions and at every level of government will see it as their patriotic duty to help reverse this very troubling trend.”
As the U.S. midterm elections approach, RSF and its coalition of partners, including the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, Asian American Journalists Association, International Press Institute, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Media Law Resource Center, the Newseum and its Freedom Forum Institute, Free Press Action Fund, the National Press Club, News Media Alliance, National Press Photographers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, and others are launching the #DefendPressFreedom campaign, which urges voters to contact their candidate through phone calls, letters, at town hall meetings, or on social media, and ask them where they stand on press freedom. By doing this, RSF hopes to bring to light the critically important role that journalists play in the US, as well as the dire need to preserve press freedom in the midst of its concerningly steady decline. It is vital to remember the crucial role journalists play in empowering the community to make more informed decisions and to hold those in power accountable. This is why It’s time to remind those running for office of the importance of an independent and free media. It’s time to #DefendPressFreedom.
In the U.S., assaults against journalists and their profession are becoming more and more commonplace. Physical, verbal, and online attacks against reporters and photographers undermine the media's role as a critical pillar of democracy, consequently creating opportunities for government overreach, the erosion of the First Amendment, and infringing on the public's right to be informed.
On June 28, 2018, one of the most horrific attacks on press freedom in the US unfolded when five employees, including four reporters, were killed at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. This shooting did not happen in a vacuum: open hostility against journalists is on the rise in the U.S. While covering the February 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, journalists were impersonated on social media, impeding their ability to accurately investigate the facts and disseminate information that could be vital for preventing similar tragedies. In May 2017, then-congressional candidate Greg Gianforte body-slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs on the eve of his special election to the U.S. House of Representatives after Jacobs persistently asked him questions regarding healthcare reform – an issue that impacts every American. More and more journalists and media outlets have reported being the target of death threats in relation to the stories they cover.
In August, the F.B.I. arrested and charged Robert D. Chain, 68, from Encino, Calif., for threatening to kill employees of The Boston Globe after calling them the “enemy of the people” in a series of menacing phone calls. Authorities said that the threats were in retaliation for The Globe's leading the nation-wide editorial response to political attacks on the media.
“This is not a partisan issue; it is a fundamental right that impacts every American no matter their politics,” says Margaux Ewen, RSF’s North America Director. “In a democracy like the United States, no journalist should be arrested, assaulted, or threatened for simply doing their job.”
To learn more about the campaign, visit the #DefendPressFreedom webpage.
American Society of News Editors (ASNE)
Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association (AMEJA)
Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA)
Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN)
Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF)
International Press Institute (IPI)
International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF)
Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE)
Media Law Resource Center (MLRC)
National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ)
Native American Journalists Association (NAJA)
National Press Photographers Association (NPPA)
NewsMedia Alliance (NMA)
Newseum/Freedom Forum Institute
Online News Association (ONA)
Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA)
Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ)