Saying that the goal is to fight the public view of the press as “unethical snoops” and restore them to the “heroic investigators” that they once were, the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) and the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) announced a new public awareness campaign at their 2008 Capital Conference in Washington, D.C., today.
Toni Locy, the USA Today reporter who is currently appealing her contempt-of-court citation for refusing to divulge her sources in the 2001 anthrax mailing controversy, was at the presentation and held up as one example of why such a campaign is necessary.
ASNE announced that it has formed a partnership with more than 1,000 news organizations to build up support for the First Amendment in unprecedented ways. They have created an ambitious campaign to digitize more government information and are working together to improve reporters’ capabilities as watchdog journalists and to offer readers more access to government documents online.
The Liberty Tree Initiative has also recently been launched to challenge public attitude and a general lack of awareness of the First Amendment. This coalition has the daunting task to reach out to a new generation with a highly interactive, integrated marketing campaign that is being currently being developed.