RTDNA has tracked nearly two hundred instances of journalists threatened, attacked or obfuscated this year. No party has a monopoly on attempting to discredit the news media and keep the public in the dark about what they’re up to. This trend may resonate from the highest levels but it’s becoming widespread.
Journalists aren’t here to tell people what to believe or how to feel, but to serve the public’s interests and empower audiences to make more informed decisions for themselves, our Code of Ethics holds.
When press freedom is attacked, the public is kept in the dark and the powerful left unchecked.
That’s why the one position for which journalists will stand up and on which journalists will agree is: The American people have a right - and need - for eyes and ears on how government is conducting the people’s business.
Threats and attacks on the Constitution and its First Amendment hurt journalists but, more importantly, hurt the public.
RTDNA is inviting members and their stations to dedicate airtime, publish an online editorial or share information via social media platforms that speaks to your viewers and listeners about the role we play in preserving the public’s right and need to know, in a government for and by the people.
Telling your station’s story – and how threats to your ability to do your job harm the public – is an important way to demonstrate how journalism is different than other types of media.
Here are some questions to ask as a newsroom as you consider talking to your audience about why press freedom matters.
- What kind of public service does your news organization regularly provide? What is your station’s “why?”
- Has your audience been informed about the verification steps and editorial process your station follows before stories air, and your process to correct mistakes when they are made?
- Does your audience know about the steps your station takes to unsure stories are fair and unbiased?
- How have attacks on the news media affected journalists at your station personally?
- How has your community been harmed by local, state or federal government officials impeding your station's efforts to keep the public informed?
- How has your station been part of positive change in your community?