National Press Club

Institute teams with Press Foundation to brain storm on defending First Amendment

April 11, 2017

The National Press Club's Journalism Institute is partnering with the National Press Foundation to host a brainstorming session for the working press on April 19 from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. in the Club's Murrow Room.

Register here to participate.

Why?

Journalists have a problem.

Journalism does not thrive in the spotlight.

Reporters don’t generally like to call attention to themselves on the job: It gets in the way of the stories and cultivating sources, and a penchant for journalistic objectivity and dispassion makes it almost impossible to advocate for themselves.

So how does the news media navigate an era that seems to like to pick on the press? How does a reporter cover a story when the source makes it about reporter?

A symposium sponsored at the National Press Club last month by the University of Missouri and the Journalism Institute revealed considerable uncertainty.

Fox News’ John Roberts advised reporters to “stop whining” because “the people who support Donald Trump don’t give a damn what the White House press corps thinks.”

While most panelists agreed that doubling down on the fundamentals of journalism is the best response to critics, others worried about what the American Press Institute’s Tom Rosenstiel called “the deeper strategic challenge.”

“If people begin to have doubts about fundamental facts,” Rosenstiel added, “We could do our job and miss the point.”

It’s not just about defending journalism, said Mizell Stewart of USA Today and president of the American Society of News Editors. History, Stewart said, shows that “a pattern of demonizing the media” can eventually morph into challenges against the rights of the citizen. But he warned that “public awareness is still low in terms of what this means.”

The Journalism Institute thinks that it’s important to continue the conversation. Two panels are slated to examine the situation. The first panel is expected to include beat reporters who plan to discuss the challenges they are facing in doing their jobs and then newsroom executives plan to talk about possible responses.

For more information about the event, please contact NPCJI Press Freedom Fellow Kathy Kiely at kkiely@press.org