The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication passed a resolution against the Bush Administration’s anti-press policies yesterday in San Francisco, at it’s annual conference.
The resolution says,
“The relationship between the presidency and press has always been uneasy. This tension is both unavoidable and generally salutary: When each side conducts its duties with honesty and integrity, both hold the power of the other in check. It is difficult to find a period in American history in which this mutual opposition did not exist.
“However, it has come to pass that the current administration has engaged in a number of practices and has enacted a series of severe and extraordinary policies that attack the press specifically and by extension, democracy itself.
“A working democracy requires a free press that is muscular in its reporting. It requires a press that holds leaders accountable for their actions. It requires a press that contrasts leaders’ words with their actions. It requires a press that uncovers errors and wrongdoing by employing named and unnamed sources. We believe the actions of the current administration compromise these press functions.
“The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press. However, American press history has been marked by periods in which press freedoms have retreated. The Alien and Sedition Acts of the 1790s represented one such period. Another was during the Civil War, in which journalists were jailed en masse because of dissent. The Espionage Act of 1917 paved the way for encroachments on press freedom (see Schenk v. United States). In each of these periods, politicians, judges, and scholars came to see, at least in hindsight, that anti-press policies in the name of national unity produced real harm to democracy itself. We believe that the Bush administration’s anti-press policies and practices represent another major period.”