Call for Press Freedom in San Francisco
CALL FOR PRESS FREEDOM DURING TIMES OF WAR
MEDIA ALLIANCE AND
NATIONAL WRITERS UNION LOCAL 3
JOIN IN CIRCULATING THE FOLLOWING LETTER:
It is during times of war and crisis that the importance of freedom
of the press is most vital. During such times there is increased
government pressure to restrict press freedom.
It is with grave concern that we alert the public and our colleagues
in the media of the following list of actions (see below) by the U.S.
government that appear designed to thwart attempts to report the
The public deserves to know about all newsworthy information
regarding the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and
Pentagon as well as the U.S. military actions in Afghanistan.
We join together to remind the public that the media must report the
truth--even when that truth challenges assertions that are made by
the U.S. government.
We, the undersigned journalists, editors, and media producers call on
publishers, owners of media outlets, and our colleagues to resist
government intimidation, restrictions on information, and direct
censorship and to reject 'loyalty tests' and other actions which
restrict media workers ability to act in the interest of the public's
right to know.
We also call on the Bush Administration to cease its overt and covert
interference with freedom of the press.
Please sign on below and return signed emails to email@example.com
Partial Chronology of Public Actions by U.S. Government Officials
Restricting Information and Intimidating Press
The statement below will be published in the Columbia Journalism
Review, the SF Bay Guardian, web news sites and newspapers.
Contributions for publication & circulation expenses will be accepted
by Media Alliance and are tax deductible. A suggested donation is $35
but no one turned away for lack of funds. Contact information will
not be shared or published. If you so indicate, you will receive
occasional alerts to protect the independence and openness of the
SEPT 21 Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage blocks a news
segment on Voice of America Radio because the report includes an
interview with Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar.
SEPT 24 State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher defends
pressure saying "We didn't think that the American taxpayer, the
Voice of America, should be broadcasting the voice of the Taliban."
SEPT 25 VOA ultimately aired the piece on September 25, despite State
Department objections. According to The New York Times, more than 100
VOA employees sent a letter to newspapers protesting that their work
was being censored.
SEPT 26 White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer advises the media
and the public that people need to "watch what they say."
OCT 2 US embassy in Qatar complains of Al Jazeera broadcasts as biased
OCT 3 Secretary of State Colin Powell applies public pressure to the
owner of the Al Jazeera network based in Qatar to modify their
coverage of Sept 11, 2001 attacks saying they encourage anti-American
sentiment in the Middle East.
OCT 10 National Security Advisor, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, stages a
conference call with news executives from all five major US networks
and wins agreement that networks will screen future broadcasts of
statements by Osama bin Laden or suspected terrorists.
OCT 10 White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says there's a "good
possibility" administration officials will be talking with newspaper
executives to similarly restrain their coverage.
OCT 10 Secretary of State Colin Powell appears on CBS network again
attacking Al Jazeera as biased because of the broadcast of statements
by Osama bin Laden and his associates.
OCT 17 The Guardian of London reports that "The Pentagon has spent
millions of dollars to prevent western media from seeing highly
accurate civilian satellite pictures of the effects of bombing in
Afghanistan," When the Defense Department moved to prevent media
access to such pictures, it did not invoke provisions of American law
allowing "shutter control" over U.S.-launched civilian satellites in
wartime. Instead, in order to avoid a First Amendment challenge, the
Guardian reports, "the Pentagon bought exclusive rights to all Ikonos
satellite pictures of Afghanistan off Space Imaging, the company
which runs the satellite. The agreement was made retrospectively to
the start of the bombing raids."
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