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For Release: October 22, 2019 Contact: Richard T. Kaplar
Washington Post Publisher Warns of Threats to Independent Press
Daunting Challenges Facing Journalists Cited During Free Speech Week
Arlington, Va., October 22, 2019 – “America has always set the standard for press freedom around the world. Sadly, that is no longer the case.” This chilling assessment came today from Frederick J. Ryan, Jr., publisher and CEO of The Washington Post, in an article published by The Media Institute.
“Today we are witnessing purposeful, calculated attacks meant to discredit the very integrity of journalism. The attacks are conducted by people who would prefer to wield power free from accountability and out of the public eye,” Ryan writes. These attacks “are part of a deliberate effort to undermine an independent press and other institutions essential to our democracy.”
Ryan’s comments, published on the Institute’s “Media & Communications Policy” blog (https://www.mediacompolicy.org/), come during Free Speech Week, the annual event commemorating free speech, free press, and the First Amendment.
“Fair and honest reporting by respected news organizations that contradicts a leader’s narrative and pokes holes in his claims gets dismissed as ‘fake news.’… But there is an enormous difference between ‘unfavorable news’ and ‘fake news.’ It is wrong to conflate them. Doing so is an attack on the truth – and it is corrosive to our democracy.”
Ryan, a former senior aide in the Reagan White House, stresses that journalists are not “enemies of the people,” but are “servants of the people – and of the democratic principles that empower the people.”
“Fred Ryan gives us a powerful reminder that journalists today are facing reckless assaults from government leaders here and abroad and that it is our duty to stand up for these journalists,” said Media Institute President Richard T. Kaplar. “Fred is absolutely correct that journalists must be supported and defended as they pursue the work that safeguards our freedoms. There is no better time to consider this than Free Speech Week.”
The Media Institute presented Ryan with its Freedom of Speech Award earlier this month. Ryan was named publisher and CEO of The Washington Post by Jeff Bezos in 2014. He is a co-founder of Politico and former president of Politico and Allbritton Communications.
Ryan’s article, “An Independent Press: Essential to Our Democracy,” can be found at https://www.mediacompolicy.org/. More about Free Speech Week, which is coordinated by The Media Institute, is available at https://www.freespeechweek.org/.
The Media Institute is a nonprofit foundation specializing in communications policy and the First Amendment. For more information, visit the Institute online at https://www.mediainstitute.org/.
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