May 3, 2018 – The NewsGuild-CWA joins freedom-loving people everywhere on World Press Freedom Day, to honor journalists who put their lives and liberty on the line in search of the truth.
This is truly a dangerous time to be a journalist. As Reporters Without Borders reported last month, hatred of journalism threatens democracies – today even more than it did just a year ago.
We feel a special responsibility as Americans to highlight our nation’s role in the decline. Regrettably, our president rejoices in vilifying the press, embraces strongmen who suppress journalistic freedom, and maintains a feeble relationship with the truth.
In the U.S. in 2017, there were 45 physical attacks on journalists, 34 arrests, 15 searches or seizures of equipment, and five border stops of journalists.
To complicate matters, economic forces and unmitigated greed have conspired to restrict journalists’ ability to report the news. Press freedom is further jeopardized as all but the most prestigious national news organizations cut staffing to bone. Press freedom cannot thrive when media outlets lack sufficient reporters, photographers and editors to cover local news in cities and towns across the country.
But the press is fighting back. Last month, in an act of defiance, the editorial board of the Denver Post demanded that Alden Global Capital, its extremely profitable hedge-fund owner, invest in the papers it controls or sell them to someone who will. We applaud the board’s bravery and note that rank-and-file journalists at the papers have made the same demand for more than two years.
Press freedom is under assault. We call on all people to support press freedom and urge civic leaders to join us on the front lines of this fight to defend press freedom. Our democracy needs you.
Photo above: Scores of demonstrators rallied outside the downtown offices of the Denver Post on June 17, 2016, the day after a buyout offer expired. Cuts were intended to eliminate one-third of of staff from the Alden-owned paper. Credit: Patrick Taylor