Recently, the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) released a statement condemning the Trump campaign for censoring and barring certain media groups from attending events. The NPPA is a national organization that represents journalists across the country by providing resources and networking for professionals. The motto of the organization is ‘The Voice Of Visual Journalists’, and it provides accreditation to freelance photojournalists like myself. The NPPA supports the ‘Free Press’ and utilizes its assets to protect reporters.
Trump has chosen to censor the Washington Post, one of the most well known and influential media groups in the USA. Tom Kludt and Brian Stetler with CNN Money compiled a ‘blacklist’ of banned media. According to the article many groups like Univision, Buzzfeed, Politico, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, and the Des Moines Register are unable to receive credentialing at Trump events. I recently attended a Trump rally in San Diego, where Trump’s anti-media war was very visible. A line of reporters with camera rigs were waiting to be vetted by one volunteer from the campaign. Once inside the campaign I noticed that the media was placed into a very small fenced in area. While Mr. Trump may dislike the media, he is not entitled to censor the press. The United States Constitution provides special protection to members of the press, and these freedoms must be upheld. In order to preserve all forms of journalism, including true unbiased reporting, censorship of any kind can not occur.
It is imperative that the Trump campaign change its stance on media groups that it dislikes, as it will only set precedent for future control and restriction of groups seeking to document and report significant events. Jack Shafer with Politico, writes on Trumps war on the media, and how it’s more of a publicity stunt than a policy stance. In the article, Shafer addresses Trumps statements going after people with ‘negative’ articles by ‘opening up’ libel laws. Shafer states that Trumps intentions are exaggerated as with many of his other policy stances. He asserts that while the Trump campaign may talk about media censorship, putting that into practice would be an entirely different situation. The irony here is that he writes for a group thats banned from covering Trump events.
Whether Trumps recent war with the media poses an actual threat to Constitutional protections of the press remains to be seen. The one truth in all of this is that trying to stifle negativity through censorship will only cause trouble, and ultimately threaten freedoms that are fundamental to the success of this nation.