ASNE challenges officials, citizens to condemn attacks on journalists

The American Society of News Editors is shocked by the events of Wednesday, May 24, when Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian, was physically assaulted by Montana congressional candidate Greg Gianforte. This is the latest in a series of punitive reactions to reporters seeking to ask questions in public spaces. This comes after the arrest of Public News Service reporter Dan Heyman in West Virginia and the forcible detainer and eventual ejection of CQ Roll Call reporter John Donnelly by security personnel at the Federal Communications Commission as he tried to ask questions of an FCC commissioner. The fact that Mr. Jacobs was attacked by the very politician he was trying to interview marks a uniquely disturbing moment in the treatment of journalists.
"Words and actions have consequences," said ASNE President Mizell Stewart III, vice president, news operations for Gannett and the USA TODAY Network. "An assault on a journalist asking a simple question is inexcusable, but not surprising, given the continued attacks on the press from those in power. Far from 'enemies of the American people,' we stand strong as a watchdog for citizens and communities.”
As the leaders of America's newsrooms, ASNE is committed to protecting the rights of journalists to be free from physical harm, from threats and harassment, from arrest, and from any and all violations of the First Amendment. That is why today we go beyond simply condemning the actions of Greg Gianforte and the others who threaten press freedom and call on our elected officials, as well as the citizens who elect them, to forcefully speak out against such incursions.