EWA Joins Free Speech, Press Groups in Denouncing Attacks on Media

The Education Writers Association today joined a group of organizations in condemning efforts by the current administration in Washington to demonize the media and undermine its ability to inform the public about official actions and policies.

In a joint statement — released today by the National Coalition Against Censorship, the American Society of News Editors, and more than 80 other organizations — the groups stress that the Trump 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. The news media’s 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.”

Today’s statement follows earlier expressions of concern by EWA and a wide array of other organizations about efforts to curb access to public information. “EWA’s concerns about executive-branch policies on press access did not begin with the inauguration of President Trump,” noted EWA Executive Director Caroline Hendrie. “We hope that leaders from all levels of government and from all points on the political spectrum will stand with journalism organizations in upholding and respecting the vital role that a free and independent press plays in our democracy.”