National Press Club

National Press Club calls for summit in wake of assault on reporter

May 25, 2017 | By Kathy Kiely | kkiely@press.org

The legal system has taken the appropriate action in the latest assault on a reporter, charging candidate Greg Gianforte with assault for the congressional candidate’s extraordinary attack that landed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs in the hospital (ironically, for asking a question about health care).

But because this is one in a series of threats against journalists — including one against the chair of the National Press Club’s Press Freedom team — that seem to be escalating, the National Press Club and its Journalism Institute want to go further.

“The National Press Club has long been a gathering place for people who cover and make the news,” said Club President Jeff Ballou. “We believe we have a constructive role to play in bringing them together at a time when doing so is more important than ever.”

In the interests of defusing what appears to be an increasingly hostile atmosphere and in the interests of better delivering for the public and the democracy we all serve, we would like to invite members of the media and leading communicators from all branches of government and the private sector to join us at a summit on access, security and free speech.

Our goal is to talk to, and not at each other, about how to balance sometimes competing goals in an era of fast-paced, 24/7 news and intense political polarization.

“The U.S. has long been a beacon for other countries because of our political system’s ability to accommodate and respond to scrutiny from the public, in the form of an untrammeled press,” said National Press Club Journalism Institute President Barbara Cochran. “I think we all want to make sure it stays that way.”

A date and time for the summit will be announced as soon as possible. Newsroom leaders, journalism organizations, public affairs officers and security personnel who are interested in participating can email us here.

The National Press Club is one of the nation’s longest-standing organizations for journalists; its non-profit Journalism Institute works to advance the profession by providing training and advocating for press freedom.