Nonprofit news organizations join campaign for press freedom

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Nonprofit digital newsrooms joined hundreds of other media Thursday in a coordinated campaign to defend press freedoms.

Amid rising threats to journalist safety and the president’s characterization of journalists as the “enemy of the people,” the Institute for Nonprofit News encouraged its 170-plus members to participate in the campaign. About a dozen and counting have published statements condemning President Trump’s attacks on the press. Some re-published a commentary from INN CEO Sue Cross.

“The ‘news media’ isn’t some monolithic thing,” Cross wrote. “It’s a voice of your community, and you can be part of it. We hope you will. Because a free press doesn’t belong to the President. It belongs to you.”

The Boston Globe initiated the campaign by rallying newspapers across the country to publish editorials. Earlier this week, the Radio Television Digital News Association followed up by encouraging its members to join. Public Radio News Directors Incorporated published a statement; however, few public broadcasters appeared to heed the call.

NPR isn’t participating. “We don’t have an editorial page,” a spokesperson said in an email. Neither do most public radio newsrooms. South Florida public radio station WLRN published an editorial with shared bylines from the VP of news and several editors. “Doing editorials is a muscle that we don’t exercise very often,” said Vincent Duffy, news director of Michigan Radio and chair of the Radio Television Digital News Foundation.

Michigan Radio doesn’t editorize as a rule. Making an exception in this case would be unethical “when we thought it was self-serving to us,” Duffy said.

RTDNA encouraged other forms of participation, such as dedicating airtime or posting information to social media platforms about ethical issues or how broadcasters serve their communities, said Executive Director Dan Shelley Tuesday during a monthly dinner for journalists in Washington, D.C. RTDNA also provided talking points.

Despite negative rhetoric toward journalists and their work, Youth Radio is seeing an uptick among young people who want to enter the profession, said Ellin O’Leary, president and chief content officer of the Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit. The public broadcaster affiliated group, which has bureaus in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C., used the campaign as an opportunity to discuss the First Amendment and the role of the press with young people.

“We’re living in a time where people like me are constantly discriminated against, among other things,” wrote 19-year-old Emiliano Villa in Youth Radio’s piece. “By being a journalist, I’m able to speak for them and use my voice for change.”

Here are some of the nonprofit news and public media organizations that published statements:

The Crime Report | Americans Asked to Defend Media Against ‘Cannibalistic’ Attacks

Honolulu Civil Beat | The ‘Enemy Of The People’ Is Actually Doing Its Job

The Marshall Project | What ‘Enemies Of The People’ Truly Means — And Why The Media Are Not

ProPublica | A Free Press Works for All of Us

The Center for Public Integrity | Center for Public Integrity Board of Directors condemns President Trump’s attacks on the press

WLRN | Editorial: A Free And Independent Press Doesn’t Serve Itself. It Serves All Of Us

Youth Radio | Despite Growing Risks, Youth Reporters Join The Free Press

Youth Today | Demonizing the Free Press Puts President on Wrong Side of History

One thought on “Nonprofit news organizations join campaign for press freedom

  1. Hi Sue,

    Thanks for the article and support of journalists and journalism – and free speech. As a child of the ’60s I had thought maybe my generation could or would be done having to be activists. Turns out that is not the case.

    I was hoping, expecting, that younger generations, even my own children, would take up the cause/s. Turns out most are not interested (or even alert and aware), so the responsibility is falling back on us tired, old folks to continue “the fight” after having done so in the ’60’s and ’70’s.

    We have to become brave enough to stand up and speak out, rather than wait for someone else to do it for us. I live in Waukesha County, Wis. – Walker/Trump country. To say anything other than upward and onward with the removal of our right is the antithesis of the political scene here.

    But I am preparing myself to go beyond the voting booth, beyond the contribution of funds, and “taking it to the streets.” Thanks for your part in joining in and leading the charge.

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