The #PressFreedomPact campaign
The #PressFreedomPact campaign
Ahead of the November 3rd US elections, RSF is asking 2020 presidential and congressional candidates to sign the #PressFreedomPact :
“ I commit to uphold the principles of the First Amendment in my words and actions, my domestic and international policy and in my governance, to protect the vital role of the free press in American democracy, and to lead by example in upholding democratic values throughout the world.”
The United States has long been considered a champion of the free press, with the First Amendment of the US Constitution a model of press protections to which other democratic nations aspire.
The importance of the free press was enshrined in the very foundations of US democracy and today the United States continues to maintain a strong media landscape, bolstered by the work of highly-skilled journalists who adhere to some of the world’s strongest ethical guidelines that date back to the early 1900’s.
The press freedom climate in the United States has fluctuated over the last few decades, with access denials, threats to the protection of whistleblowers and confidential sources, the decline of local news, and most recently, verbal and physical attacks against journalists at the forefront of the American press’ domestic concerns.
In recent years, the United States has retreated from its role as a champion of press freedom - sinking to a ranking of 45th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index - which has only served to bolster authoritarian tendencies in other countries. This vacuum of leadership has compromised the safety of journalists and led to the shrinking of space in which independent media can operate around the world.
That’s why this election is so important. The hostile environment for journalists in the United States is a direct threat to the First Amendment rights of Americans and to the safety of journalists elsewhere in the world. In the midst of a steady global decline in press freedom worldwide, it is crucial that democratic nations like the United States uphold the principle of press freedom.
It is time for American leaders to take a firm stand in support of press freedom and acknowledge its role in democratic society. Because a free press can hold power to account. It can uplift the voices of all Americans and shed light on injustice. Because a free press can save lives. And it needs our help.
In response to the decline in press freedom in both the United States and globally in recent years, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has also introduced eight policy recommendations for the presidential and congressional candidates to consider leading up to the US elections. The recommendations are as follows:
- The president should affirm his commitment to press freedom in the first 100 days in office.
- Congress should hold a hearing on threats to US press freedom.
- The president and Congress should guarantee open press access.
- Congress should pass and the president should sign a federal shield law.
- Congress should pass and the president should sign an amendment to the Espionage Act to ensure journalists cannot be prosecuted.
- Congress should pass and the president should sign legislation that would strengthen US foreign policy on press freedom.
- The president should prioritize ending impunity for crimes against journalists and redouble his efforts to secure the release of detained journalists globally.
- Congress should renew regulation of online platforms and amend Section 230 to promote reliability of information online.