Authors Petition: ‘Open Environment for Reporters’

As the fervor over the ‘Hunger for Power Games’ at the Republican National Convention carries on, and prep for the Democratic National Convention next week gears up, reporters are struggling to share their opinions without backlash and slander. In response to the difficulties and in anticipation of increasing election hype, PEN put forth a petition on Monday. Backed by a handful of PEN affiliate organizations and writers, the petition asks Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to “end attacks on journalists and create an open environment for reporters at the upcoming Republican and Democratic national conventions.”

Image courtsy of NYMag

The petition has amassed wide support, scribbled with the signatures of Judy Blume, George Saunders, and John Green among other noteworthy writers. Backed by The Nation, People for the American Way, In These Times, Free Press, The Intercept, Reporters Without Borders, and scores more, the petition emphasizes the need to access the conventions freely without excessive obstacles. Although it hasn’t gotten nearly at many signatures as the absurd “Spicy Boy” petition currently making the rounds, it has rounded up a strong 20,000 and counting.

Executive director of PEN America, Suzanne Nossel, released the following in a press release:

“A free press undergirds [sic] our democracy, offering a direct link between the candidates and the electorate they seek to serve. The barring of journalists from access to the campaigns they are covering and the harassment and threats made in retaliation for unwelcome stories stand in the way of journalists trying to do their job. The party conventions must guarantee reporters access to the candidates and the proceedings without interference.”

As Marvin Gaye says “We’re all sensitive people,” and reporters are too. Minus a buttery voice, and the melodic serenade reminiscent of champagne and body oil, the petition is more or less urging a similar kind of unity in asking both parties to ease up and “denounce journalist intimidation tactics used by campaign supporters.” It’s a unilateral call to both candidates to stop the slanders, and a bipartisan plea to “get it on” in the most platonic journalistic sense of the term.

It’s a request that comes in a highly contentious election year, one in which neither candidate has hesitated to share his or her stance on the media. As the press release continues:

“The 2016 presidential campaign has set a new high for harassment and threats against the media. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has been cited for numerous personal attacks on journalists, including comments disparaging of gender, physical disabilities, and other attributes unrelated to their coverage; revoking access to press and campaign events for more than a half dozen major news outlets; and turning a blind eye to campaign supporters’ online harassment and abuse of reporters who present the candidate in anything short of a flattering light. Clinton has faced criticism—albeit less severe—for her failure to give a general press conference since December 2015.”

At the intersection of literature and civil rights, the petition is an open demand for the space to write, express and critique, “recognizing the power of the word to transform the world.” For more information on the Petition and a full list of signatures, check out the PEN site

Featured image courtesy of Politico.