Journalists are mission-driven to speak truth to power and report the news even under the most harrowing circumstances.
We’re not accustomed to becoming part of the narrative.
Last week’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by a rampaging, violent mob aimed not only to terrorize and instill fear in the hearts of the nation’s highest-ranking elected officials and the people they represent but also to threaten and intimidate the media, which serves as a check and balance for our democracy.
The words “Murder the Media” were written on the doors of the U.S. Capitol Building. Journalists were assaulted, threatened, and had their equipment stolen or damaged by supporters of President Donald Trump.
The Associated Press photographer John Minchillo was shoved, pulled, and punched by a group of men outside the Capitol. Some attackers accused Minchillo of being part of the left-wing group Antifa.
“Never become the story, that’s the core principle. If I could ask for something? Don’t linger on the outrage for too long,” Minchillo wrote on Twitter.
New York Times photographer Erin Schaff reported being grabbed by the angry mob who “threw me to the floor, trying to take my cameras.”
“I started screaming for help as loudly as I could. No one came. People just watched.”
The National Press Photographers Association is calling on authorities to investigate and prosecute people who targeted journalists doing their jobs during the Capitol riot.
This seditious attack on our government was also an attack on the First Amendment. We condemn not only the attack itself, but also the pseudo-news outlets that create, disseminate, and amplify false information. This has been called a “mass delusion” event, and rightly so. We cannot live in a civil society in which citizens are fed misinformation and lies to achieve political ends. We also condemn news outlets that have fanned the flames of white supremacy by irresponsibly amplifying fascist voices while silencing Black and brown reporters who were concerned and have been sounding the alarm about the Trump administration’s racism for five years.
“The Black, Latino, Muslim journalists relegated to the ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ beats should have been leading political coverage these last 5 years. They are the ones who saw this for what it was, they were the ones able to objectively view what was happening in this country,” New York Times Magazine racial injustice reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones wrote on Twitter. “White nationalism was treated as a side story. It was always the main story.”
As of today, five people — including a Capitol police officer — lost their lives because of conspiracy theories promoted by our president and his enablers.
Words matter. We say, “enough.” We reject any attempts to silence the truth and stand by our journalistic brethren who continue to defend the public’s right to know despite threats to their personal safety. We will not be censored. And the truth will prevail.
The Chicago Headline Club Board