After more than 1,000 press freedom infractions reported in 2020, 2021 is off to an inauspicious start.
RTDNA’s partners at the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker have documented multiple arrests, detainments, assaults, harassment and threats to journalists.
On January 6, aggressors near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, destroyed multiple news outlets’ gear in an attack that also included physical assault and threats. Later multiple journalists were detained by law enforcement using a technique called kettling despite specific exemption from Washington, DC’s curfew that evening.
“Murder the media” appeared in graffiti inside the U.S. Capitol building.
Threats to members of the media are real and not limited to verbal harassment and are expected to persist across the country through and after the Presidential Inauguration on January 20. Newsroom managers must protect their teams online and in the field both physically and mentally. Field teams should be prepared to identify and respond to imminent threats to themselves and their colleagues by practicing situational awareness at all times.
RTDNA has created the SAFE Journalist Training & Resource Center to provide newsroom managers and field teams essential safety information from security experts and first responders. The center includes resources to report ethically and safely during civil unrest and will be expanded over the coming months to include multi-part safety training for both daily reporting and escalated events including civil unrest. All resources are available free and on demand.
A free press is a fundamental element of democracy. Journalists, know your rights, report responsibly and stay safe. Always report threats against yourself or your newsroom to law enforcement, to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker and to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.