#DefendPressFreedom

A free press is essential to our democracy. Communities everywhere rely on journalists to report on our government’s actions and hold public figures accountable, providing us with the information we need to make decisions every day.
43%Negative ViewForty-three percent of Americans have a negative view of the news media
Source: Knight Foundation


Unfortunately, attacks on journalists in the United States are becoming more common, undermining the media's role and creating opportunities for government overreach, the erosion of press freedom, and impeding our right to be informed. You can read more about these incidents here.

84%
Critical Role
Eighty-four percent of Americans think media plays a critical role in our democracy
Source: Knight Foundation

As the US midterm elections approach, we must remind our congressional candidates that journalists play a crucial role in our democracy by keeping us informed and holding those in power accountable.

Use the tools below to contact your candidates running for Congress this November and demand to know where they stand on press freedom. Press freedom is not a partisan issue: it is a fundamental right that impacts every American, no matter their politics. Contact your candidates now to #DefendPressFreedom!


Learn How You Can #DefendPressFreedom



Find Your CandidatesStep 1

Find your candidates for Congress by going to vote411.org, ballotpedia.org, or any other trusted site.


Ask your candidates where they standStep 2

Use this toolkit to ask your candidates how they plan to #DefendPressFreedom if elected to Congress.

    Talk to Your Candidates

    Calling candidates and representatives is one of the best ways to get their attention. Once you have the number of your candidate’s office (this can be their campaign or congressional office) or see them at an event or town hall, use this simple script to make your voice heard.


    Email

    Reach out to your candidates either by email or through the Contact Us pages on their websites to let them know you are passionate about how they will treat the press and press freedom if elected to office. Click here to send an email or view a template below.


    Send a Letter

    Write to your candidates and ask if they'll #DefendPressFreedom if elected to Congress. You can use the template or make a copy of it here.


    Twitter

    Twitter is a useful tool to contact your candidates directly, particularly in local congressional races. Using the hashtag can also raise awareness about the declining state of press freedom and encourage your followers to join the campaign.


    Facebook

    By posting statuses on Facebook about the #DefendPressFreedom campaign, you can show your family and friends that press freedom is an important issue to you and encourage them to take action by joining the campaign.


Do More for Press Freedom Step 3

Already contacted your candidates? Here are more ways to #DefendPressFreedom:


Thank you for reaching out to your congressional candidates to #DefendPressFreedom! Together, we can turn the tide and ensure our democracy has a free and independent press.

#DefendPressFreedom Partners

Resources

If you have questions about the #DefendPressFreedom campaign, reach out to us on Twitter @RSF_en or by contacting our Communications Officer at nghani@rsf.org.



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Dear [Name of Candidate],

I am writing to ask you what you plan to do to defend the First Amendment, freedom of the press, and the fundamental rights of journalists to practice their profession freely in what has become an increasingly hostile environment for information and news providers.


The United States, which enshrines press freedom in the First Amendment of its Constitution, is currently witnessing a drastic decline in media freedom. On June 28, one of the most horrific attacks on press freedom in the United States occurred when five employees, including four reporters, were killed at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. According to the US Press Freedom Tracker, which comprehensively documents press freedom violations in the US committed by national, state, and local authorities as well as private individuals, 33 journalists were arrested, 43 were physically attacked, and 15 seizures of journalists’ equipment occurred in 2017. In one of these incidents, Rep. Greg Gianforte physically assaulted a Guardian journalist the night before his state’s election. While covering the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, journalists were impersonated on social media, impeding their ability to accurately investigate the facts and disseminate information which could be vital to preventing a similar tragedy. This hostility towards the press not only risks compromising the American public’s right to be informed through journalists’ reporting, but can also degrade the public’s trust in the media itself.


This is not a partisan issue; it is a fundamental right that impacts every American no matter their politics. Journalism is at the crux of our democracy, and communities everywhere rely on journalists to provide them with information that is essential to their daily decision-making processes. It was local investigative journalist Curt Guyette who broke the story about Flint, Michigan’s lack of access to clean water in 2014, prompting years of class-action lawsuits, protests, and subsequent federal assistance to the city in order to try to resolve the crisis. Reporters Megan Twohey, Jodi Kantor, and Ronan Farrow publicized sexual assault allegations against influential Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in 2017, leading to the ubiquitous and powerful #MeToo movement which brought decades of sexual abuse and harassment across multiple industries to light.


Yet freedom of the press in the US is currently in dire need of congressional support. It is our civic duty as one of the world’s leading democracies to uphold principles that support and protect the rights of journalists so that they may hold those in power accountable and ensure an informed and engaged community.


If you are elected, what do you plan to do to protect this utterly essential component of our democracy? What are your plans to protect the public’s right to be informed through a free and independent press?

Sincerely,
[Your name]

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Hello, my name is _______ and I am from [city, state].

I’m calling to let you know that [candidate/representative]'s stance on freedom of the press is extremely important in my decision to vote. I feel that this is not a partisan issue, but a fundamental right that impacts every American no matter their politics.

I have become increasingly concerned with the growing climate of hostility for journalists in this country, and I would like for [candidate/representative] to publicly address what they will do to defend press freedom if [he/she] is elected.

Thank you.
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Freedom of the press is suffering in the US. @[yourcandidate] if you are elected to serve in Congress, what are your plans to protect journalists and our right to be informed? Will you #DefendPressFreedom?

Democracy depends on a free and independent press and its ability to hold those in power accountable. [@yourcandidate] will you take measures to protect journalism and the First Amendment? Will you #DefendPressFreedom?

In June, four reporters were murdered in an appalling targeted attack on the Capital Gazette and freedom of the press. [@yourcandidate] what will you do to address the growing threat to journalists in this country? #DefendPressFreedom

Press freedom is in steady decline in the US. I want my representative to defend the work of journalists as well as my right to be informed. [@yourcandidate] if you are elected what will you do to protect a free press? #DefendPressFreedom

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Journalists play a crucial role in our democracy by keeping us informed and holding those in power accountable. And yet in the US, attacks on journalists are becoming more common, undermining the media's role and creating opportunities for government overreach, the erosion of press freedom, and impeding our right to be informed. I’m contacting my candidates and encouraging them to defend press freedom during their midterm election campaign. Join me at DefendPressFreedom.com

A free press is essential to our democracy. Communities everywhere rely on journalists to report on our government’s actions and hold public figures accountable, providing us with the information we need to make decisions every day. And yet physical, verbal, and online attacks against journalists in the US are increasing at an astonishing rate. I’m contacting my candidates and encouraging them to defend press freedom during their midterm election campaign. You should too. Read more at DefendPressFreedom.com

Press freedom is declining in the US at an alarming rate. Physical, verbal, and online attacks against journalists have increased drastically in the last two years. As the US midterm elections approach, we must remind our congressional candidates that journalists play a crucial role in our democracy by keeping us informed and holding those in power accountable. I’m contacting my representatives and encouraging them to defend press freedom during their midterm election campaign. Join in and help me spread the word at DefendPressFreedom.com

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