Journalism Groups, Media Outlets Team Up to Protect Press Freedom

The Protect Press Freedom campaign, ahead of the 2020 presidential election, emphasizes the challenges and sacrifices journalists make in reporting and presenting the news.

As the 2020 election season kicks into high gear, a coalition of journalism groups and publishers are kicking off a new campaign highlighting the risks that reporters and editors often face in doing their jobs.

Protect Press Freedom, led by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Committee to Protect Journalists, brings together more than 30 nonprofit groups, technology companies, and media outlets—including big names like The Washington Post, NPR, Facebook, Comcast-NBCUniversal, and The New York Times. The goal? To make clear to the public the need to be informed, and the often difficult role the press plays in that endeavor.

The new program, including the above ad, comes amid a recent history that has seen journalists increasingly targeted by U.S. politicians. According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, 31 journalists have been attacked in physical altercations in 2019, while other issues, including denial of press access, arrests, and border detainment, have also happened frequently this year. Business issues have also been a challenge, with major publications, such as Deadspin, facing internal conflicts with management that impeded their ability to function.

Two deadly incidents also brought issues of press violence to the forefront last year: a shooting that killed five employees at the Capital Gazette, and the state-sponsored assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian dissident who wrote a column for The Washington Post.

Despite strong evidence of risks, slightly more than half of people surveyed [PDF] by RCFP last year believed that journalists didn’t face serious risks in doing their jobs. (The study was conducted before both of the above incidents.)

Bruce Brown, the executive director of RCFP, said the campaign is intended to emphasize to the public that these risks are often hidden from view.

“Americans across the country rely on diverse news sources to help them make informed choices every day, but many don’t see the threats that are putting that information at risk,” Brown said in a news release. “When one journalist or news source is threatened—whether it’s verbally, physically, or legally—it threatens a fundamental American freedom that’s essential to understanding and participating in our communities.”

The campaign will rely on its media partners to help promote the broader message in both traditional and digital media outlets, while a microsite explains the issues around press freedom through interactive elements, including a quiz and social shareables.

“Through video, radio, digital, print, and social media assets, the campaign communicates a simple, powerful truth: In order to be free, we must be informed,” the release states.

(Chainarong Prasertthai/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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