20 press freedom groups launch U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Freedom Tracker artINDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA — The Society of Professional Journalists joined more than 20 press freedom organizations announcing the launch today of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a new nonpartisan website dedicated to documenting press freedom abuses across the United States.

Led by the Committee to Protect Journalists and Freedom of the Press Foundation, the site will serve as a central repository for data at a time when journalists in the U.S. are facing increased hostility.

In recent months, journalists have been charged with crimes while covering protests in Washington D.C. and North Dakota; stopped at the border and subjected to searches of their electronic devices; and physically assaulted, in one case by a congressional candidate. Data collected on the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker shows that 19 journalists have been arrested during their work in 2017 and that at least 10 reporters are currently facing charges. In 2017 at least four journalists have been stopped at the border and 11 have faced physical attacks, per the tracker. These numbers may increase as we receive new information.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker collects data based on news reports and tips submitted by journalists, professional organizations and press freedom organizations. 

Alexandra Ellerbeck

Alexandra Ellerbeck

“The United States has some of the strongest legal protections for press freedom in the world and a robust and varied media landscape, but this cannot be taken for granted. Open hostility, threats of leak prosecutions, and arrests have created a precarious situation for journalists,” said Alexandra Ellerbeck, senior research associate for the U.S. at the Committee to Protect Journalists and chair of the steering committee for the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. “A full and honest accounting of challenges to press freedom in this country is sorely needed.”

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker collects data based on news reports and tips submitted by journalists, professional organizations and press freedom organizations. The coalition behind the tracker will use the research in letters, legal briefs and advocacy campaigns.

Trevor Timm mug

Trevor Timm

“With the Trump administration ramping up its war on journalism, this initiative could not come at a more important time,” said Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. “We hope it will be vital to highlighting the threats to press freedom in the U.S. and the important work journalists do to hold the government accountable.”

“We hope it will be vital to highlighting the threats to press freedom in the U.S. and the important work journalists do to hold the government accountable.” – Peter Sterne, managing editor, U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

“We hope it will be vital to highlighting the threats to press freedom in the U.S. and the important work journalists do to hold the government accountable.”

Peter Sterne

Peter Sterne

Freedom of the Press Foundation is leading the day-to-day operations of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, with its senior reporter, Peter Sterne, serving as the managing editor. The Committee to Protect Journalists is providing the initial funding and chairing the steering committee. The steering committee also includes representatives from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Knight Institute at Columbia University, Reporters Without Borders and Index on Censorship. Please find a full list of partners on the website.

SPJ National logo jpgSPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a membergive to the Legal Defense Fund, or give to the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.

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