April 8, 2019

US – #WeeklyAddress: April 1 – 7: Georgia House Republicans file bill to create state Journalism Ethics Board

Below are the most notable incidents regarding threats to press freedom in the US during the week of April 1 – April 7:

Georgia House Republicans file bill to create state Journalism Ethics Board

On April 2, members of Georgia’s House Republicans, headed by Rep. Andy Welch, proposed the creation of “canons of ethics” for journalists in the state. Georgia’s new Journalism Ethics Board would be in charge of accrediting journalists and organizations, investigating and sanctioning journalists after complaints are filed by the public, accepting and managing grants and other monetary awards, and setting rules and standards to adhere to for “factual and ethical reporting.” The Radio Television Digital News Association released a statement condemning the Georgia politicians’ decision. Journalism ethics, it said, are “not a weapon by which government can silence journalism and avoid the accountability journalism is constitutionally mandated to provide the people of Georgia."



Megachurch pastor preaches threat towards local South Carolina newspaper

Hope Carpenter, former pastor at Relentless Church in Greenville, SC, used her guest sermon on March 31 to threaten the local paper The Greenville News. According to a video posted to YouTube, nearing the end of her soliloquy, Carpenter turned to the audience and said, “I cut people. I got a knife right in that pocketbook. Greenville News, come on. We done went through this.” The threat towards the newspaper comes after the publication wrote several stories that cast a negative light on current Relentless Church pastor John Gray. In a statement to The Washington Post, Holly Baird, spokesperson for John Gray said, “Neither our pastors or anyone in our leadership would agree with any type of communication that would encourage or incite violence against another individual or entity.”



Local news reporter keeps his cool as Trump supporter heckles him on camera

Michael Gordon, a reporter for El Paso’s ABC affiliate, KVIA, was harassed by a woman at a Trump rally in El Paso, Texas on March 30. A video posted to Twitter shows Gordon preparing for a live take when a woman donning a red “Make America Great Again” hat and a poster reading “FAKE BY OMISSION” approaches the news team screaming “Y’all are fake! You’re fake! You spread fake news! You should be ashamed of yourself,” before chanting “Trump 2020.” A second video was later posted by Gordon showing possibly the same woman walking up to the camera shouting insults and expletives. Gordon later said he held “absolutely no ill will towards the woman in that clip.”



The United States ranks 45th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.



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