Threats to press, journalists hits home

Staff Collaboration

Last spring, our former Photo Editor attended a political rally where a man shouted at her “death to female journalists.”

Journalists and First Amendment rights have been under attack. Threats have been made to open up libel laws, making it easier for public figures to sue news outlets. The media was blamed for “rigging” the 2016 presidential election and the New York Times was threatened to be sued for reporting about a sexual assault controversy linked to a presidential candidate, with a call to retract the story: an action almost every newspaper across the country has firm policies against.

In addition to threats against the First Amendment, physical threats have been made against journalists themselves. After already seeing our former Photo Editor threatened with the wish of death against her, and our majority female staff, the Royal Purple staff was significantly shaken up again after photos circulated the Internet of people at political rallies wearing shirts that said “Rope. Tree. Journalists. Some assembly required,” referring to lynching journalists.

While these events were all related to a specific presidential candidate, our purpose at the Royal Purple is not to bash or endorse a particular candidate, but instead to express our concerns for the future of the First Amendment, and the future of our lives and well-being as many of us plan to work as professional journalists within the next five years.

As a staff, we found it important to reflect on how these threats impacted us as individuals and as a staff, or more accurately, as journalistic family. We discussed the future of our careers and why some of us are scared, angry or excited to go into this field, knowing that the road ahead may not just be rocky, but could potentially be falling apart in front of us.

Our editorial staff has taken time to think about how the last few months have affected us personally and professionally and we thought it was important to share this with our community in order to ignite a conversation: what does the First Amendment mean to you and is it okay to promote harm against a group of people that you disagree with?

Ashley and Kimberly, Co


Imagine being punched in your gut by the world’s strongest person, wearing brass knuckles. That’s about as close as we can describe the feeling of knowing our lives may be in danger any time we are on the job. But this isn’t even the scariest part.

The press is the fourth estate, the watchdog for the government and all power-wielding entities. Weakened press means more control for the government. Without anyone watching, reporting and investigating those in power, there is far more opportunity for corruption, fraud and overall hate.

Our democracy, at the lowest and the highest levels of government, doesn’t work if the electorate isn’t informed. It is our duty to you, our readers, to defend you with information, integrity and honesty. The Pen is always mightier than the sword.

Dusty, Opinions Editor

Being biased is my job and quite frankly, it is in my DNA. As a supporter, and campaigner, of many people who often pin the people against the media, the question arises if the media truly is at fault for a lot of our disagreements.

I would say yes and no because I think the media is the watchdog over our now unified government. We are in charge of creating topics of discussions that regular people are unaware of.

I do not believe the media is under attack, but I do think that we as a society need to do better than just relying on one news source for all of our information.

Explore the sources, recognize similarities, and evaluate it for what it is worth. You should not blame one category of people for all our country’s problems when you probably contribute to them.

Marisa and Sarah,

Copy Editors

As writers, we believe the media should be respected because without coverage, people are not informed. As providers of information, journalists should not live or work in fear. While we expect respect, we also believe journalists should demonstrate the same behavior and practice what we preach. Intense political coverage is controversial, therefore journalists need to be aware of how they express their opinions, keep it to themselves and be professional. As much as we want to share our political opinions, we need to resist, remain unbiased, show respect and hope for reciprocity.

Brad, Biz & Tech Editor

I don’t think the distrust some people have of the media is new, but I believe that these feelings have grown more intense during this election cycle. The mistrust for media at a national level boils down to a local level, which is extremely concerning because local reporting is the most important, because there’s so many fewer reporters in one city than there are nationwide.

We have to place trust in local media, because they provide a key information link between the community and its citizens.

Some people who despise the media and express that quite strongly to others could cause a ripple effect, leading to a greater divide between journalists and the community they serve.

Emily and Nicole, News Editors

We believe that journalists should not be threatened because journalists are just trying to do their job of informing the public of what is truly happening in a situation.

Justin and Josh, Sports Editors

As mainly sports journalists, if we were to sound off on just about any other topic than sports on our social media sites as a professional sports journalist, we would get the #sticktosports hashtag.

When it comes to suppressing the First Amendment, we will not #sticktosports.

The First Amendment protects our right to report on something as trivial as someone being injured and missing a game to a scandal that could rock the core of the government. Having said that, we do need to be very careful as news readers to differentiate between fake news stories that are easily spread across social media. The day the First Amendment is taken away in this country will be a really awful day for this country.