Supporting the Press with Appreciation and Action.
The months of 2020 have often felt like years. When time moves in slow motion, it can help us see things more clearly.
We’ve learned how much further we need to go in order to address racial injustice and social inequity in this country. We’ve learned just how devastating and powerful a 70-nanometer virus particle can be. At the center of it all, we’ve seen the irreplaceable societal value of the work journalists do every day -- as well as the disturbing occupational risks facing journalists in America today.
It is difficult to imagine where we would stand in our fight against the pandemic without the tireless work of journalists. From coast to coast, we have relied upon local reporting for critical information on COVID-19 infection rates in our hometowns, health and safety guidance, response from local and state governments, the availability of testing and treatment services, business and school closures, and – at long last – reopenings.
Every day, reporters have provided us with timely and reliable information that has helped us better understand the virus, mitigate risk within our communities, and achieve progress together.
Achieve progress together. That sentiment is also at the heart of the work journalists have done to bring awareness to the racial and social injustices that persist in our country.
Journalism has amplified voices that have long been marginalized or ignored. Journalists have held those in power accountable for their actions. Journalists have provided data-driven insights that reveal the connection between racial bias and police brutality – as well as the reforms that could best create positive change.
From the Federalist Papers to Southern Horrors to the Watergate scandal to the #MeToo movement, works of journalism have shaped the history, evolution, and collective consciousness of our country. Yet despite the power of journalism to influence and bring positive change to society, it is often a thankless job. In today’s world, reporting the news is more challenging that it has ever been.
“Journalist” is frequently ranked high on the list of the most stressful jobs in America, and over the past few decades, the struggles of the journalism industry have made the role even harder. Newsroom employment has suffered a precipitous decline, making job insecurity a top concern among journalists today. But in recent months, more and more journalists have had to worry about their own personal safety when simply doing their jobs.
Following the tragic killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have been held in 2,000 cities and in all 50 states – as well as in more than 60 countries around the world. Those numbers reveal just how important the issue of social justice is at local and global levels – and they certainly qualify each and every protest as a newsworthy event.
However, hundreds of journalists covering the protests have been met with police violence, harassment, and arrests. Since May, more than 800 acts of police aggression against journalists have been documented at Black Lives Matter protests across the nation. According to a Time interview with Kirsten McCudden, managing editor of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, these attacks have occurred on “a scale we have not seen before.”
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution explicitly protects the freedom of the press, as well as the freedom of assembly. These freedoms are non-partisan. They are a fundamental part of what it means to be an American. Every attack on a journalist is an attack on our democracy: Countless studies have shown the positive effects of local journalism on voting and civic engagement, holding elected officials to account, combating government corruption, and bringing communities together.
So it’s time to stand up for journalists, just as journalists have repeatedly stood up for us all. The incredible challenges we have all faced in 2020 have shown what it will take to address these issues: A collective commitment, unwavering persistence, and a willingness to look at hard truths in order to solve difficult problems.
That process starts with recognition. It starts with appreciation. It starts with a simple thank you for the difficult, stressful, and often dangerous work journalists do every day.
The next step is to help turn those sentiments into action. As Airfoil celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, we are doubling down on our efforts to drive positive change through meaningful action. Our goal is to do everything we can do to make the next 20 years a period of continued progress and growth – not just for our agency, but for our community and society as a whole.
We would be honored if you would help us achieve progress together. Please join us in donating to and supporting organizations that protect freedom of the press, support local journalism, and help ensure the safety of our country’s journalists. Their work is essential to the future of our democracy.
But first, a few simple words are in order: Thank you, journalists. Without you, there’d be no us.
Information and transparency are necessary for public education, informed decision-making, and a comprehensive understanding of the issues at the heart of our society, our culture, and our democracy. We celebrate and appreciate the hard work journalists do every day in uncovering hidden truths and giving a voice to different and opposing points of view.
Please visit our Salute to Journalists resource page to learn about organizations that are helping to protect freedom of the press and local journalism in the U.S. We’d be honored if you’d join us in recognizing the increasingly important role journalists play in our world today.