PHILADELPHIA — On Tuesday, more than 50 social-justice groups, journalism organizations and media-rights groups urged the leadership of the news divisions of ABC, the Associated Press, CBS, CNN, Fox, MSNBC and NBC to adopt a set of policies to guide their election coverage.
“We … are writing to urge you to rise to this moment by prioritizing coverage that condemns hate and gets it right — not just first,” reads the coalition letter, which was sent to the presidents of these outlets. The letter offers six guidelines in support of the media’s mission to inform the public as voters consider the future direction of the country. The guidelines include refraining from repeating baseless claims of voter fraud; rejecting coverage that fuels partisanship, hate and violence; confronting any attempts to derail the election; amplifying local-news reporting on voter-suppression tactics; preparing audiences for possible delays in election results; and challenging any attempt to halt vote tallying.
Groups that signed the letter include Color Of Change, Common Cause, Free Press Action, Fight for the Future, Greenpeace US, Indivisible, Movement Alliance Project, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Native Public Media, Public Citizen and Voting Rights Lab.
Free Press Action News Voices Director Mike Rispoli made the following statement:
“We stand ready to assist and support reporters to get this historic story right. Their work has never been more essential than it is now. By all measures, this election is unlike any other; Trump has deliberately sought to undermine trust in the media and the election — even refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he be voted out of office.
“Major news organizations must refrain from amplifying disinformation and escalating violence. That means refusing to publish or air calls to arms and centering the lives and perspectives of people who are most impacted by such aggression. It means confronting extremist and bigoted views for what they are, not giving them equal time. And it means supporting local-news coverage while fully vetting claims of voter fraud and exposing attempts to disenfranchise voters.
“Our guide offers a roadmap to responsible election reporting. Underlying it is the need for news outlets to build trust with the public via coverage built on verified facts and context. While sensationalism and hyperbole may be good for ratings, they add tinder to an already hazardous election season. What we need now from the press is authoritative reporting that informs and unifies our country, challenges racist narratives, respects voters and lives up to our democratic ideals.”