Ken Ellingwood readily admits that the subject of his new book is not exactly a household name. But for anyone who believes mightily in the First Amendment, Elijah Lovejoy was a titan of its promise and protections. “First to Fall: Elijah Lovejoy and the Fight for a Free Press in the Age of Slavery” is Ellingwood’s deeply researched story of a man in the 1830s who used the power of the pen to speak out firmly against the horrors of slavery, fighting back harder with every death threat and unruly mob who came after him.
This feature celebrates one of SPJ’s four guiding principals: We are fighters for the First Amendment. You’ve written a story that embarrassed someone who now wants the name of your protected source. Or perhaps a trial judge demands you testify and spill all.
As protests erupt in the wake of police brutality, one key point for journalists to remember is that many police agencies have enforced silence on police officers. And that creates an historically fearful secrecy. In an SPJ-sponsored 2016 survey, 56% of police reporters said they can rarely or never interview a police officer without involving a department’s public information officer.
June 3rd, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog
Police and protesters: Please let journalists do their jobs
Sunday night, around 9:30 p.m. in downtown Atlanta, I stopped next to a tree to try and gather my thoughts and decide where to go next. I was on assignment for The Washington Post covering the George Floyd protests and, while just an hour earlier there had been a lot of action with tear gas and fireworks in the streets, the city’s curfew went into effect at 9 and for the most part all was quiet.