First Amendment
Commentary: We Stand With A Free Press

By Sandy K. Johnson

It has been a rough two years. Donald Trump the campaigner instigated and incited blood lust against the media at his rallies. As president of the United States, he recognized early in his tenure that it was easier to deflect his troubles with an ignorant rant against the media.

What has followed has been a troubling descent into no man’s land for the media. Do we call his bluff? How do we push back? Do we call him out as a liar? Do we discard our politely honed measures of objectivity?

These questions will live for the remainder of the Trump administration, and we cannot answer them here. But as evidence of the impact of his tirades, we would like to describe a few discernible changes in our playbook, all of them prompted by the Trump hate train.

For the first time, the National Press Foundation has felt compelled to offer training to journalists on topics such as these:

What to do if you are attacked or arrested.

Trickle down hostility toward journalists.

Understanding and combating fake news.

Keeping tabs on a hostile administration.

Now we’re moving a step beyond. We’re partnering with the National Press Club for a briefing Aug. 28 on the specific security threats against the media; it will include guidance from professional security experts on how journalists can and should respond. A morning workshop will be capped by an NPC Headliners Luncheon featuring Trif Alatzas, publisher of The Baltimore Sun and its sister paper, Annapolis’ Capital Gazette, which lost five souls to hatred.

Trump is here for four years, eight at most. Americans have embraced a free press since the dawn of the nation (As a reminder, we offered training on The evolution and origins of the First Amendment). And we’ll be here long after Trump is gone.

The views expressed here are those of the author, who is the president & COO of the National Press Foundation.

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