In an opinion piece on the political website The Hill, Dan Shelley, executive director of the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), writes about the Journalist Protection Act, which would make it a federal crime to assault journalists. Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA) introduced the legislation.
Shop Talk panelist Rich Egger said it’s disturbing to think that such protection might be needed. He said you might expect to hear about assaults on reporters in Russia or China but he believes the U.S. should do better by its journalists. And he said the recent ugly rhetoric from the NRA, which was discussed during last week’s Shop Talk, doesn’t help matters.
Panelist Will Buss said that like the NRA, the Trump administration works to discredit journalists. Buss said reporters are just trying to do their jobs and present the facts, and they shouldn’t have to face physical attacks and/or comments that encourage such attacks.
Buss said citizens should be outraged that there were 44 physical attacks on journalists in the U.S. during 2017. He said journalists are needed for democracy to function properly.
Panelist Jasmine Crighton said she knows of reporters who support the Journalist Protection Act and others who oppose it. She is not sure how she feels about it, and said it might have been proposed just to make a point to President Trump.
Crighton also said it’s sad that more people in the U.S. don’t respect journalists. She said many reporters work crazy hours and receive little pay while striving to bring to light important issues for people -- who then despise them for it.
Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.