An open letter regarding the unwarranted ouster of journalist Sandra Fish from the Colorado Republican state assembly

Sandra Fish
Journalist Sandra Fish shows the credential she received at the state GOP assembly on April 6. (Credit: Anna Lynn Winfrey, The Pueblo Chieftain)

The Colorado News Collaborative (COLab), Colorado Press Association, Colorado Broadcasters Association, Colorado Media Project, Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition and Denver Press Club write to express our collective dismay and concern over the recent exclusion of Colorado Sun politics reporter, Sandra Fish, from the Colorado Republican Party state assembly.

Journalism serves as the cornerstone of a vibrant and functioning democracy, providing citizens with the information necessary to make informed decisions. The forcible removal of Ms. Fish from the assembly, under the pretext that her reporting was unfavorably viewed by the party’s chairman, stands in stark contrast to the principles of freedom of speech and the press enshrined in our Constitution. 

Ms. Fish, a seasoned reporter with a career spanning decades, was unduly singled out and told that her presence was unwelcome, based on subjective assessments of her reporting. This action not only silences a respected voice in the field of journalism but also sends a chilling message to the press at large about the erosion of journalistic access and freedom within our state.

The Constitutionally protected role of journalists is to report facts and bring transparency to the workings of our society, especially our political institutions. By barring Ms. Fish from attending the assembly, the Colorado Republican Party risks obstructing the public’s right to receive comprehensive and unfiltered news about significant political events. This action not only undermines the essential role of the free press but also detracts from the democratic process by limiting the scope of public discourse.

This is not a partisan matter. We agree with the previous GOP state chair, Kristi Burton Brown, who posted on X, formerly Twitter, that the ouster was a “dangerous” move by her successor, adding: “Transparency is necessary for our nation.”

In light of these events, we urge the Colorado Republican Party leadership to reconsider its stance on press freedom and to acknowledge the vital role that journalists like Ms. Fish play in our democracy. It is imperative for all political organizations to operate with transparency and to allow media access to their proceedings, regardless of perceived criticisms. We stand in solidarity with Sandra Fish and all journalists who face barriers in their pursuit of truth and accountability.

Sincerely,

Colorado News Collaborative (COLab), Colorado Press Association, Colorado Broadcasters Association, Colorado Media Project, Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, Denver Press Club