As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day on July 4, the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW) reminds the public that press access to government is a foundational freedom enshrined in the First Amendment.
Attempts to undermine the unfettered access to government, particularly through confidential sources, are detrimental to democracy and are contrary to the spirit of the Bill of Rights.
In recent months we have learned of a systematic effort to suppress press access to government sources, through gag orders, secret subpoenas, intimidation and threats to place journalists under investigation.
As the nation undertakes a vigorous debate about the future of fiscal policy, tax policy and infrastructure spending, it is crucial that business journalists be able to collect facts and inform the public without interference, and especially, fear of reprisal.
While we appreciate efforts by Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and others to create protections for journalists trying to investigate government activities, we recognize there are many hurdles to legislating protections for journalists.
We encourage the Biden Administration and its successors to cease the practice of spying on journalists who are doing their jobs – including acting with discretion on matters of national security and classified information.
Our democracy will be stronger for having more information, not less. As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote in an article in Harper’s Magazine in 1913: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”