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The Society of Professional Journalists’ Oregon Territory Chapter Condemns Attacks on Oregon Journalists During Trump Protests, Lists Resources Available to Journalists
November 22, 2016
November 22, 2016 -- Journalists and photographers throughout Oregon experienced attacks, threats, intimidation, danger and obstruction during the protests and demonstrations that followed the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.
The Oregon Territory Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) condemns any action — by individuals, groups and institutions — that prevents journalists from doing their jobs: reporting on events in the public interest and informing the public.
The attacks against journalists that our board is aware of include a protester setting fire to a Portland Tribune newspaper box during the evening of Nov. 10.
On November 11--the first night that the Portland Police deemed the protests an “unlawful assembly”--Joseph Glode, a freelance photographer, was struck by three rubber bullets while photographing the protest.
“I quickly realized that I was fine and kept moving and continued making photos,” Glode says. “But it did spur me to reassess my goals as a photojournalist, especially while working in potentially hostile situations. I revisited some questions...What resources are accessible to me if I am seriously hurt or threatened? How do I report cases of violence or harassment? How much risk am I willing to take to cover a story?”
Three days later, on Nov. 13, a film crew was attacked. Multiple threats to KGW film crews — including verbal threats, protesters physically pushing reporters and smashing camera equipment — led the television station to decide not to cover the protests on the ground. On top of that, a person on Twitter wrote: “don’t whine when you get injured.”
Everton Bailey, an African-American reporter for The Oregonian, received the following Tweet from an unnamed user while he was covering student-led protests on November 14: "how about u go back to africa? smelly black."
In response, the Oregonian wrote an editorial condemning racism and hate speech: “There is no place in our community for acts and words that seek to threaten, silence and harm people. We are a state that prizes freedom of expression, but that can exist only when all are allowed to exercise it.”
The SPJ Oregon Territory Chapter agrees. Freedom of the press — the freedom of journalists to cover and report on the events, ideas, and stories in the public interest — is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment and is integral to a healthy democracy and vibrant civic discourse. Any danger that a journalist faces when doing their job is a danger to our democracy, and thus to the social fabric of our society. It is unacceptable.
"Great photographs and great journalism can only be created by getting close to the subjects and situations in which you are reporting, but that closeness can often expose you to both knowable and unknowable risks,” Glode says. “It is crucial that journalists have the resources and representation to address these risks and to find the most effective ways to report on the important issues of our time."
If you are a journalist and have experienced any threats, intimidation or obstructionism, you can turn to these resources:
The ACLU of Oregon defends free speech and free expression rights in Oregon.
The Society of Professional Journalist has a legal defense fund that provides funding and legal assistance to journalists facing lawsuits or who are in need of filing one.
And, of course, any journalist who has received threats should also contact law enforcement.
If the election of Donald Trump has proven anything, it is that there is much more work to be done to understand the lives and experiences of every citizen in this country, regardless of whether they live in a city or in a rural community, and regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc. More than ever, a free and healthy press is necessary to tell those stories, to hold political leaders and institutions accountable, and to defend our democratic society.
The Oregon Territory Chapter of SPJ is the professional organization representing journalists throughout the state of Oregon and Southwest Washington. SPJ Oregon members champion freedom of the press; train journalists; encourage students; recognize excellence; and promote the highest ideals of journalism. We provide training, networking and funding opportunities for members.
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