For an updated statement, please view our We Are Listening post from June 5, 2020
Dear Alumni and Friends:
Like many of you, I have been shaken to the core by the recent unrest in the country the past several days. As a journalist, I believe that all voices deserve to be represented, heard and respected, and as dean of the college that teaches Democracy’s Next Generation, I can tell you that we stand by our brothers and sisters of all races in committing to a more just and equal society.
I also want to address our many Grady College graduates, and all journalists, who report nightly from scenes of protest across America in the wake of the death of George Floyd. In the past few days, we’ve watched Grady alumni report from Spokane, Washington; Greensboro, North Carolina; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta, and other cities around the country.
Our journalists, and countless others, are courageously performing a key role in a representative democracy: covering stories of public interest, serving as the eyes and ears of the readers and viewers at home. This is a bedrock value in our constitution, and our system fails without the vigilant check on government performed by the press.
None of this is easy. Our friends in law enforcement have a difficult job to do, every day. Yet there simply is no excuse for the targeted assaults, detentions and arrests of working journalists. Journalists wearing visible credentials have also been arrested and targeted by police and protestors with acts of violence. We ask merely that you think before you take action against a journalist there to do their job. Treat our journalists with the same respect and dignity that you seek.
Journalists have been uniformly respectful of the role of police. Likewise, they’re owed respect for their role in providing information to the public. Any deliberate targeting of journalists for detention, arrest or, worse, violence is a dangerous assault on freedom of the press. Targeted attacks and acts of intimidation show a complete disregard for the crucial role journalists play in informing the public – a role needed now more than ever.
Grady College stands in solidarity with all journalists in these trying times. We need journalists to be able to report safely on the protests without fear of injury or retaliation.
Charles N. Davis
Dean, Grady College
University of Georgia
June 2, 2020