The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Committee to Protect Journalists, along with a coalition of over 30 media, technology and nonprofit partners, last week launched the “Protect Press Freedom” campaign to mobilize the public to stand up for press freedom and actively protect their right to be informed.
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 campaign illustrates the crucial role the free press plays in everyday life by depicting a world in which people are unable to access news about issues that are important to them. On the campaign website — https://protectpressfreedom.org/ — visitors can learn more about the threats to press freedom, explore key moments for the free press in America’s history, and take a quiz to assess their knowledge.
“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,” said Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “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. We’re proud to bring news outlets and organizations together to have a conversation with the public about press freedom and encourage people to stand up for their right to information.”
Attacks on journalists’ safety and the public’s right to know occur with troubling regularity. According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, of which the Reporters Committee and CPJ are partners, there were at least 35 physical attacks on journalists last year, most notably the murder of five people working at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland. So far in 2019, at least 28 journalists have been denied access to government events that are traditionally open to or attended by the press, leaving members of the public without crucial information about their government’s activities. Relentless disparagement of the media contributes to an increasingly dangerous climate for journalists.
“Journalists around the world are being imprisoned in record numbers, and violence is on the rise,” said Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “The Protect Press Freedom Campaign is about standing up for the rights of journalists in this country and supporting journalists working in repressive conditions, without the protection of the First Amendment.”