Dear Journalists Covering Hurricane Harvey:
You are risking your personal safety to help the people of South Texas, and the entire country, keep informed about the most destructive storm to strike the U.S. homeland since Superstorm Sandy in 2012. It may also be the strongest natural disaster to strike our nation since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
During the aftermath of Katrina, it was journalists who risked their health, and, indeed, their lives, to document the plight of its victims in Louisiana, Alabama and other Gulf states. They were criticized by some for reporting the truth when the coverage portrayed an accurate narrative that put the federal government in a negative light. But they persisted.
And so shall you persist, regardless of whether the efficacy of the current administration’s response, good or bad. We, as American citizens with a love for our country, sincerely hope the response is positive and effective.
All across America, journalists work hard every day to fulfill their Constitutionally-guaranteed duty to seek and report the truth to the public. We continue this work even as some label American journalists as part of the “fake news” “liberal media elite” who are “enemies of the American people” and “don’t like our country.”
Recently, at least 16 journalists have been physically assaulted in our nation simply for attempting to fulfill their responsibilities, many falling victim to those emboldened by the recent rhetoric against the press.
I assure you, as chair of the world’s largest professional organization devoted exclusively to broadcast and digital journalism, that the motive of the responsible journalists now covering Harvey consists of nothing more than a desire and, again, a duty, to inform the people of South Texas and the United States of what Watergate-era journalist Carl Bernstein described as the “best-obtainable version of the truth,” a phrase he coined at RTDNA’s annual convention in September 1998.
Once more, thank you to the journalists covering Harvey. And thank you, too, to the journalists who have devoted their careers, and, in many cases, their personal safety and their lives, to serving their communities and their nation by following their sacred calling to seek and report the truth.
In the words of one of our heroes - Good Night and Good Luck,
Radio Television Digital News Association