Statement on the Society of Professional Journalists

In continuing to permit Fox News to sponsor the 2019 Excellence in Journalism awards, the Board of Directors of the Society of Professional Journalists bring shame and disappointment to professional journalists nationwide.

SPJ Board of Directors statement on Fox sponsorship at Excellence in Journalism 2019

SPJ Board of Directors statement on Fox sponsorship at Excellence in Journalism 2019 8/22/2019 3:00:00 PM Tweet CONTACT:J. Alex Tarquinio, SPJ National President, 212-283-0843, [email protected] Jennifer Royer, SPJ Director of Communications and Marketing, 317-361-4134, [email protected] INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists stands by its partner the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in condemning last week’s vile anti-immigrant commentary by the host of a show on the Fox News subscription streaming service.

The effects of the broadcasts on Fox News are well-known and well-documented within the journalism profession. Despite repeated protests, Fox News has continued to broadcast encouragements of racism, sexism, hatred, and violence.

It is egregious that the Society would invoke the First Amendment in its attempt to excuse its tolerance of the intolerable. The First Amendment does not require individuals or organizations like the Society to include all points of view. It is carefully and specifically designed to restrict the ability of the elected politicians to use the tools of government — the police, military, intelligence services, prison, the courts and so on — from attacking, threatening and silencing their critics.

It is further egregious that the Society invokes its own Code of Ethics in its statement, justifying its tolerance of Fox News as a sponsor by noting the Code “[encourages] journalists to boldly tell the story of diversity and the magnitude of the human experience; seek sources whose voices we seldom hear; avoid stereotyping; label commentary; never deliberately distort facts or context.” The statement also says: “The second tenet of the Code says to ‘Minimize Harm.’ Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.” Despite repeated public criticisms, Fox News has continued to do all these things.

The Code calls for journalists to “support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.” It does not call for journalists to tolerate or support any entity that has demonstrated repeatedly failings to observe even the basic standards of human decency. The Society is failing us in this regard.

As an Asian American, I am particularly upset that the Society has continued to turn away from the requests and pleas of my cousins of color, who have been covering and warning of the dangers of such ignorance for decades. I must only conclude that these professional journalists continue to fail to learn the lessons of the past.