Athens, GA, 3/3/2017 – The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) joins with the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) and the American Society of News Editors (ASNE), along with more than 80 other organizations committed to the First Amendment right of freedom of speech and the press, condemning efforts by the Trump administration to demonize the media and undermine its ability to inform the public about official actions and policies. In a joint statement released today, the groups stress that the administration’s attacks on the press pose a threat to American democracy.
The statement cites numerous attempts by the administration to penalize and intimidate the press for coverage the President dislikes, including refusing to answer questions from certain reporters, falsely charging the media with cover-ups and manipulation of news, and denying certain media outlets access to press briefings. Official designation of the media as “the opposition party” escalated when the President described the New York Times, CBS, CNN, ABC, and NBC News as “the enemy of the American people!”
The statement emphasizes that an independent and free press is the Constitution’s safeguard against tyranny. Its job is not to please the President but to report accurately on the actions of public officials so the public has the information to hold power accountable. Efforts to undermine the legitimacy or independence of the press, the statement reads, “betray the country’s most cherished values and undercut one of its most significant strengths.”
“It is extremely difficult to know how best to respond to this administration’s treatment of the press,” said NPPA President Melissa Lyttle. “Some days it makes me want to laugh, others to cry, but mostly it just makes me want to scream and reinforces the importance of the fourth estate in a democratic society. It is instructive to remember that while President Obama was beautifully documented by the official White House photographers, it was often at the detriment of many other visual journalists who were denied meaningful access to important events and meetings. But such restrictions pale in comparison to the outright anger and hostility toward the press as an institution, as displayed by President Trump,” she added.
“The press plays an essential role in democracy, by serving as an independent watchdog on government conduct and as the main source of information for the public,” said NCAC’s Executive Director Joan Bertin. “The constitutional right to freedom of speech and to petition the government for a redress of grievances cannot be exercised in a meaningful way without access to information about what the government does in our name.”
“Given his actions and rhetoric during the campaign, the attacks on the press by President Trump should not be a surprise to anyone,” said Mizell Stewart III, president of the American Society of News Editors. “Every American should be concerned about this administration’s coordinated attempts to marginalize journalists and threaten the public’s right to know.”
For more information contact:
Mickey H. Osterreicher [email protected] 716.983.7800
Posted in American Society of News Editors, First Amendment, First Amendment rights, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Press Photographers Association, NPPA, Trump Administration, U.S. Constitution | No Comments »