In recent weeks we have witnessed police brutally murder George Floyd, attack protesters and target journalists trying to cover the civil unrest. Black journalists and other reporters of color have faced compounded harm, as have undocumented immigrants that local officials have threatened with detention and deportation.
As the uprisings have escalated, we want to first say that Black Lives Matter. Black power matters. And today we reaffirm our commitment to the ongoing work of supporting Black dignity while undoing white supremacy within our organization and in the world. We invite all of our fellow progressive advocacy organizations to do the same.
In our corner of the world, Free Press is dedicated to protecting the rights and safety of both protesters and the reporters who are covering these demonstrations.
We are continuing the work of transforming the media system into one that tells the full truth — truth that can be achieved only by disrupting the anti-Black status quo of newsgathering practices.
Right now, disinformation is rampant in corporate news and on social media.
We’re seeing terroristic threats from the president himself, amplified by companies like Facebook and Twitter.
We’re seeing news stories repeat police talking points with no critical analysis.
We’re seeing local TV news — still the most popular source of news — place more value on property than human life.
We’re seeing firsthand how media consolidation, shrinking newsrooms, the lack of Black ownership and the lack of newsroom representation make local TV news an accomplice to police who are using violence to preserve a white supremacist society.
And we’re also seeing brave journalists and newsrooms attempt to capture the truth of what’s happening on the ground as police shoot and detain protesters.
These journalists are examining the U.S. government in the context of other repressive regimes — and in response the authoritarian-in-chief is openly violating reporters’ First Amendment rights.
President Trump has egged on the police crackdown in a series of recent tweets, including one that labels news outlets covering the protests as the “Enemy of the People.”
Reporters and researchers at the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker are investigating more than 100 separate incidents in which officers attacked reporters, permanently blinding a photojournalist in one eye and causing other grave injuries.
It doesn’t have to be this way
We can shift power away from the institutions of anti-Blackness toward a shared vision of the future. We can build the type of journalism that can expose and eradicate white supremacy. We can have journalism that centers community.
Reporters can turn their cameras and microphones away from police officials and property owners toward the local organizers who have long engaged in the work of building stronger and healthier communities.
Newsrooms can point their coverage toward protesters in the streets, airing their grievances against a system that devalues people’s lives.
As people take to the streets demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee and so many others, we understand that it’s time for media — and for all of us — to completely divest from a system of media and technology that propagates racism and abuse.
Free Press is deepening our fight for a media system that tells the truth. A just media. A media we’ve never had, but one we can see in our dreams and commit our hands to collectively building.