Colorado Press Association statement
on the events of Jan. 6, 2021
The first rule of journalism is to “show,” not just “tell.” We decry Wednesday’s siege of the U.S. Capitol as an attack not just on democracy, but also on the free press, and we urge Coloradans to see that attack with their own eyes.
The words “Murder the Media” were scratched into a door inside the building. A throng of rioters smashed journalists’ camera equipment and tied the cords into a noose. Another throng assaulted a journalist, who later was held at gunpoint by police.
In case those affronts seem merely a D.C. problem, consider that a protester waved a sign reading “Media is the Virus” outside Colorado’s Capitol on Wednesday. And know that journalists here, like journalists nationwide, have been harassed and threatened increasingly over the past four years as “the enemy of the people.”
For an industry loathe to make itself the story, there is a temptation to stay silent. But in the face of this week’s attack on our nation’s capital, the Colorado Press Association instead asks news readers, viewers and listeners throughout our state to join us in denouncing these acts of aggression. Threatening journalists and blocking our ability to report news are assaults not just on our trade, but also on Americans’ right to know what our leaders are up to and to keep them accountable.
Just like so many in the U.S., we watched in horror as the events at our nation’s Capitol unfolded on Wednesday. We were glued to TV broadcasts, reading local and national newspaper coverage and incessantly updating social media feeds. Without brave journalists in the field bringing us that vital coverage at the risk of their safety, Americans would not have been able to see what was taking place nor have the now much-needed conversations about how to move forward.
Freedom of the press and democracy are not separate things. They are indelibly intertwined. Weaken one and you weaken the other. That’s why attacking journalists, just like attacking the elected officials and institutions we cover, cannot be tolerated. “No American should be harassed and threatened for doing a lawful job, let alone those who are constitutionally empowered and crucial to a healthy nation,” says Colorado Press Association Executive Director Tim Regan-Porter. “These threats don’t just harm journalists and their outlets; they harm the entire country.”