Our democracy needs a robust press to hold our leaders accountable and cover the important issues facing our communities.
But press freedom is under attack today, with government authorities seizing journalists’ phone records, detaining reporters at border crossings and demanding that journalists reveal the identities of confidential sources.
This kind of harassment doesn’t just affect “professional” journalists. The Internet and new technologies have democratized media making, with more people taking up the tools of journalism. And after years of newsroom layoffs, many of the people who are most at risk are citizen journalists and indie reporters operating outside the mainstream press.
With more people than ever before engaged in media making, there are also more people who have a stake in defending press freedom.
The First Amendment belongs to all of us and the public has to have a seat at the table when new laws are being debated. We must leverage public pressure to make our leaders understand what the First Amendment means in the digital age, to beat back bad laws that threaten our rights to connect and communicate, and to support new journalistic efforts in all their forms.
Photo by Glenn Halog of citizen journalist John Knefel under arrest in New York City.