The board of Investigative Reporters and Editors calls on all levels of government across the country to protect the rights of citizens to assemble and protest against racial injustice and for the rights of journalists to chronicle those protests.
IRE has supported the rights of journalists the world over to do their jobs without fear of persecution. The fight isn’t just overseas. It’s right here, right now.
News gathering is not a crime. Taking photos or video of police actions is not a crime. Writing down the names and badge numbers of law enforcement officers is not a crime.
Police have arrested, gassed and assaulted clearly identified journalists doing their jobs in cities across the country since the uprising began following the killing of George Floyd.
But it’s not enough to decry the treatment of journalists by law enforcement and other government forces. When rubber bullets are fired at protesters and tear gas is lobbed into crowds, the action doesn’t become more heinous because journalists are among them.
All citizens have a right to free speech. Journalists have a right to be there, to bear witness, to share the stories of what happened.
The driver of these protests nationwide is structural racism and its impact on black and brown people for generations. Journalists have told the story of this injustice since the country’s founding:
- Ida B. Wells wrote about lynchings in the South.
- Vernon Jarrett chronicled the experiences of being black in America.
- Les Payne covered the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and involuntary sterilization of black women.
- And countless more examples from journalists of the current era writing on injustices such as redlining, police shootings and employment discrimination.
IRE is dedicated to supporting investigative reporting that speaks truth to power and to improving the quality of journalism in the U.S. and throughout the world.
Part of that mission is about pushing the news industry to be more inclusive, more diverse and more supportive of journalists of color.
All members have access to the IRE Resource Center, featuring tipsheets and story archives to help journalists investigate the impact of racial injustice and the violation of First Amendment rights during the recent protests. For any journalist looking for guidance on covering police misconduct, IRE has made the following resources available for free: https://www.ire.org/archives/41996
IRE stands committed to its members, to journalists here and the world over, and to the freedoms of all people to speak out and bear witness.