WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) reintroduced legislation to better protect journalists and the free press who are essential to our democracy. The Journalist Protection Act would make intentionally harming a working journalist or intentionally harming a journalist with the intent of intimidating them from doing their job a federal crime.
“Democracy depends on the ability of journalists to ask tough questions and report the truth without fear of violence or persecution,” said Rep. Swalwell. “My bill will ensure that journalists are able to do their jobs without fear of harm.”
“As threats and violence against the media have multiplied more menacingly in recent years, the press needs and deserves greater protection,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “The right and responsibility of journalists to hold accountable people in positions of power is absolutely fundamental to our democracy. I’m proud to work with Congressman Swalwell on this bill that will make it easier and safer reporters to do their jobs without interference.”
“The increasing threats and acts of violence against journalists are deeply alarming, and they need greater protection in order to do their jobs safely,” said Sen. Menendez. “Our democracy and the American people rely on a free and independent press—a strong Fourth Estate—to keep the public informed and hold those in power accountable. Journalists perform a noble public service that the Framers understood was essential to a well-functioning democracy. We need to do more to ensure they can do their jobs effectively without fear of being hurt.”
Today’s bill reintroduction comes as attacks on journalists are at an all-time high. According to the Press Freedom Tracker, there were 427 physical attacks on journalists in 2020 – that’s higher than the prior three years combined. The Journalist Protection Act makes an important statement that violence targeting the free press, an industry protected by the First Amendment, will not be tolerated, and will serve as the federal backstop if such crimes are not punished at the state or local level.
Organizations supporting the bill include: Communications Workers of America, News Media for Open Government, News Media Alliance, Radio Television Digital News Association, National Press Photographers Association, MPA – The Association of Magazine Media, National Newspaper Association, News Leaders Association, Society of Professional Journalists, Professional Photographers of America, American Society of Media Photographers, National Association of Broadcasters, Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press, North American Nature Photography Association, American Photographic Artists.
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