ASNE expresses concern over threats to journalists
ASNE has recently spoken out, individually and in conjunction with other journalism organizations, in support of the rights of journalists to be free from physical harm or arrest when doing their jobs.
On Thursday, we issued a statement condemning the president's reported remarks to now-former FBI Director James Comey that the FBI "should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information." Noting that Dan Heyman, a reporter for Public News Service, had still-pending charges for the "willful disruption of government processes" that stemmed from an arrest as he tried to ask questions of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway at the West Virginia Capitol, ASNE President Mizell Stewart said in the statement, "Not only should these charges be dropped, but also this climate of aggression against the media needs to stop before others are arrested or harmed."
Hours after we released our statement, a well-known and highly regarded Washington, D.C.,-based reporter John Donnelly of CQ Roll Call was pinned against a wall at the Federal Communications Commission as he attempted to ask questions of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Michael O'Rielly. Donnelly, also the Chair of the National Press Club's Freedom of Information Committee, had shown his congressional press pass but was escorted from the building.
This disturbing further turn of events prompted us to join another statement, issued by the National Press Club on behalf of 16 journalism organizations, that supports Donnelly and Heyman and demands a change in the culture of hostility against journalists. Our views can't be summed up any better than the concluding paragraph of the statement:
"Secrecy by security cannot become the new norm of civil society. We call on public figures to recognize the dangerous path we are on and to reverse course. Democracy depends upon it."