SPLC joins AEJMC, two others, in releasing statement to the Trump administration

The boards of directors of four journalism education organizations today released a statement to President Donald J. Trump advocating for continued First Amendment freedoms and news literacy education.

The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, in conjunction with the Student Press Law Center, the National Scholastic Press Association/Associated Collegiate Press, and the Journalism Education Association, authored the two-page letter, which urges the newly-sworn-in president to uphold the values of the First Amendment.

Outlining principles of freedom of speech, the news media as a government “watchdog”, as well as the importance of verification in journalism, the letter implores the Trump administration to defend the freedoms “threatened by the rhetoric of [the] administration.”

“We urge you and your administration vigorously to protect and preserve the First Amendment rights of journalists and all citizens – rights that are basic to democracy and an informed society. We will also continue vigorously to defend these principles,” the letter read in part.

“Ever since the election, given the heated rhetoric directed at journalists, we’ve had an explosion of calls from folks around the country concerned about the boundaries of government authority over newsgathering. All journalists, most especially students, would benefit from a clear declaration by the White House that reaffirms support for a free and independent press as an indispensable part of a functioning democracy,” said Frank LoMonte, executive director of the SPLC.

“Although student journalists don’t deal routinely with the federal government, the president can set a tone for state and local agencies to follow, and a tone of hostility will only embolden those agencies to escalate their aggression toward journalists, with students too often on the receiving end.”