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Press freedom under threat in US says Reporters Without Borders

RSF's #WeeklyAddress on US press freedom: week of May 29 - June 4
Reporters Without Borders (RWB) recently said there is a increased threats to journalists in United States of America. President Trump has frequently attacked news organisations whose work he does not like, often using social media to accuse outlets of “fake news”. Under his leadership, the White House has also attacked journalists and excluded certain news organisations from briefings.

Below are the most notable stories regarding threats to press freedom in the U.S. during the week of May 29-June 4:

1. Tuesday, May 30, marked the first televised White House press briefing since May 18. This was one of three televised briefings this week. A fourth briefing took place, but the White House banned television cameras and the briefing lasted for less than 12 minutes. President Trump has been considering decreasing the frequency of on-camera White House press briefings.

2. During the May 30 press briefing, Brian Karem, a reporter for Maryland newspaper The Sentinel, asked Press Secretary Sean Spicer if the Trump administration will take a stand against violence against journalists. Spicer responded, “We’ll take a stance against violence against any individual.” When Karem followed up by asking if the administration would support legislation to protect journalists, Spicer said: “We have a Constitution, Brian, that supports the First Amendment.” While working for Texas television station KMOL-TV in 1990, Karem was arrested and sentenced to six months in jail for refusing to reveal the names of sources who helped him get interviews with a jailed murder suspect. He was released after two weeks, when his source released Karem from his promise of confidentiality. Karem is now an advocate for adopting a federal shield law.

3. RSF is tracking an incident that occurred at the office of a newspaper in London, Kentucky, last weekend. On the morning of Sunday, May 28, windows on the lower levels of the Lexington-Herald Leader’s building were shattered, and two windows on the upper level were damaged with what appear to be small-caliber bullets.

Police have yet to identify a suspect, though they have noted that similar cases of vandalism have occurred in the last month at other locations near the newspaper’s building, including an elementary school. The Lexington Herald-Leader had not received any specific threat in relation to the vandalism.

The United States ranks 43rd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index after falling 2 places in the last year.


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