Members of the NewsGuild-CWA marked World Press Freedom Day on May 3 by launching a campaign to protect the Right to Report. The union is asking all those who treasure freedom of the press to sign a petition and join the fight to protect this cherished right.
Press Freedom Day has special significance for Americans this year, because of President Donald J. Trump’s unbridled attacks on the media and journalists, the union says.
- The president refuses to release his taxes.
- The White House has discontinued the practice of releasing visitors’ logs.
- News organizations are being excluded from press briefings and denied access to high-ranking government officials.
- The president demonizes reporters, calling them “enemies of the people.”
- An army of operatives – foreign and domestic – spreads fake news.
Attacks on the media are nothing new, of course, and they’re not limited to the current occupant of the White House or to Washington, DC, the NewsGuild-CWA points out.
- Journalists were arrested while covering protests in Ferguson, MO, and Standing Rock ND.
- Responses to Freedom of Information Act requests are delayed, often for years, at the local, state and federal levels.
- Reporters and photographers are frequently harassed while covering the actions of local police.
“These are not ordinary times,” says Bernie Lunzer, president of the NewsGuild-CWA. “Journalists are expected to be objective in our reporting, but we cannot ignore threats to the right to report and the people’s right to be informed.
“We have a special responsibility to stand up for freedom of the press and to fight for transparency in government. That is a responsibility we take very seriously,” he said.
After an inauspicious beginning, journalists have begun to find their footing in covering the new president, he said.
“Journalists are persevering. They’re asking tough questions. Reporting the facts. Finding connections.
“And people are paying attention” he noted. “After years of shrinking newsrooms, many media outlets are hiring reporters, subscriptions are increasing, and ratings for TV news programs are soaring.
“Journalists are essential to democracy,” Lunzer wrote in an email about the campaign. “They are witnesses to events around the world who record history as it happens. To do that, they must have unfettered access to events ranging from White House news conferences to protests.”
The campaign will fight threats to press freedom and advocate for the right to report.
NewsGuild members at 29 publications owned by Digital First Media and GateHouse Media organized special activities to mark World Press Freedom Day.
Stand up for freedom of the press!