How To Support Freedom Of The Press, Because Meryl Streep Has Its Back & You Should Too
Perhaps the most important moment of Sunday night's Golden Globe Awards was when Meryl Streep spoke about freedom of the press and urged the public to support the protection of this constitutional right. As part of her six-minute speech, she noted:
This brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in the Constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re gonna need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) had spoken out against President-elect Trump prior to his Nov. 8 victory. “A Trump presidency would represent a threat to press freedom in the United States, but the consequences for the rights of journalists around the world could be far more serious,” said Sandra Mims Rowe, the committee's chairwoman, in a statement. The statement listed Trump's frequent insults aimed at journalists and news organizations, his campaign's systematic denial of press credentials to reporters from newspapers that had previously published critical articles about him, and his promises to change laws in order to penalize journalists, such as the time he said, "I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money."
In addition to donating to the CPJ, as Streep encouraged, there are several other ways to take action and support a free press. The CPJ actually has a list of other organizations dedicated to protecting journalism on its website, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which tackles the challenge of preserving the freedom of expression on the internet, and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which aids journalists with legal matters.
Subscribing to newspapers and magazines is another vital way to preserve a stable media. Without financial support, news outlets have no way of surviving. With newspaper circulation declining and employment for reporters decreasing as well, a supportive readership is crucial to the free press.
Finally, if things go wrong — if a journalist is unjustly penalized or Trump manages to change the system to limit the media's liberties — it's necessary that people protest. While sometimes it may seem like protesting achieves nothing, the voice of the majority is ultimately where the power lies. Just a few years ago, the world saw what the mobilization of protests through social media could achieve in Egypt. It's highly unlikely that the U.S. will reach a state of emergency as what we saw in 2011 in the Arab Spring, but it's still worth remembering that protesting can indeed be a powerful way to spark change.