Friends of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker:
Welcome back to your monthly newsletter around press freedom violations in the United States. Get this newsletter direct in your inbox by signing up here.
Each month, this newsletter opens with a snapshot of categories from our home page. This is what you saw on the last day of September:
And this is what our home page looked like at the end of October:
The Tracker Administration
Dropping a newsletter the day before Election Day feels a bit like spitting into a hurricane: The noisy news ecosystem is turned all the way up and it’s hard to focus on much these days that isn’t ballot counting. But we, too, are finishing our first term — the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker launched in 2017 — and are busily preparing for whatever shape the next four years take.
Indeed, the Tracker has evolved. In 2017, our Chilling Statement category (defined as “Selected public threats made to reporters and media organizations by U.S. politicians and other public figures.”) was filled with individual stories of President Donald Trump’s tweets:
It didn’t take four years to realize we didn’t have the capacity — nor would it have served the public — to write a story each time Trump tweeted negatively about the press. Instead, Tracker reporter Stephanie Sugars keeps a massive database tracking and categorizing each of the president’s negative tweets about the media.
It’s doubtful that 2,300+ individual stories about tweets would have more impact than the work we’ve done with the numbers:
Trump, in crisis mode, tweets his 2000th attack on the press | April 12, 2020
Whether that database is archived for historians or gets more rows added to it will be determined in the days ahead. We do know we’ll be shuttering our year-long election tracking project as of tomorrow. Our Special Election Section launched last November to collect press freedom violations from candidates for federal office — and their teams — in one searchable place with the belief that how candidates treat the press while campaigning may give us insight into how they would act as elected officials.
Search the (admittedly bizarre) campaign year here.
November means it has now been more than five months since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the start of national protests around the Black Lives Matter movement and against police brutality. We continue our work documenting journalists — the hundreds and hundreds of them — whose rights are violated while they cover these protests. Find the most up-to-date published information here and on Twitter.