National Newspaper Association President Matthew Adelman, publisher of the Douglas (Wyoming) Budget, issued a call for civility and respect for journalists as they do their jobs.
His call follows the release of a news report about a reporter in Chattooga County (Georgia) who was attacked while covering a local meeting. Reporter Casie Bryant, with an internet publication called All of Georgia, was the victim of battery when the wife of a county commissioner— who was apparently upset at the publication’s news coverage— poured a soda over Bryant’s head while she covered the meeting. Police were called.
The Summerville (Georgia) News reported that the attacker, Abby Winters, later said she tripped and accidentally poured a dark soft drink over the reporter’s head. But the Summerville police report quoted witnesses hearing Winters say, “she deserved it.”
Adelman said the incident was a sobering reminder that journalists at all levels of news coverage can draw violent responses to their stories — even at an event as routine as the county budget meeting that Bryant was covering.
“We are seeing a rise in attacks,” Adelman said. “National news may focus upon atrocities committed on journalists in other countries and let us think that our tradition of free press protects community journalists. But the Committee to Protect Journalists says that 1,373 journalists have been killed worldwide since 1992.
“We must be concerned when our domestic tensions wind up focusing on reporters who are simply doing their jobs. NNA is calling upon journalists to maintain their professional detachment as they stick to the facts and leave their opinions to the editorial pages, and upon public servants to remember that it is our job to cover their work.”
As of Dec. 17, 2019, 1,373 journalists have been killed worldwide, not just within the U.S.
The National Newspaper Association was established in 1885 as a not-for-profit trade association to represent the owners, publishers and editors of America’s community newspapers.