The Greater Los Angeles Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is calling on SPJ National’s board of directors to return sponsorship money provided by Fox News for the upcoming Excellence in Journalism (EIJ) conference running Sept. 5-7.
We do not believe at this late date that SPJ can or should disinvite Fox News, which has a sponsorship contract for multiple conference services. But we also cannot remain silent about the channel’s opinion programming, which on multiple occasions has demonized migrants from Mexico and Central America seeking refuge in the U.S., as well as Latino immigrants in general.
Programming that compares asylum seekers to Nazis invading Western Europe, describes the threat of white supremacy as a hoax and suggests that immigrants make our nation “dirtier” are inaccurate and irresponsible. Broadcasters should be capable of engaging in a policy debate over appropriate immigration levels and associated restrictions without resorting to dehumanizing and even racist language.
Fox News has the freedom under the First Amendment to publish and broadcast invective and hate speech of all kinds. However, event sponsorships are a privilege, not a right.
EIJ is about supporting excellence in journalism and impressing in our colleagues, especially those new to the field, the importance of sticking to the facts, giving consideration to all sides of an issue, and reporting and analyzing rather than fabricating news — standards that should hold for commentators as well as hard news reporters.
By issuing this statement, we stand in support of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, which shone a spotlight on this matter and has already opted to return its sponsorship funds to Fox News. We support their effort to ensure fair and accurate coverage of Latinos across all media and look forward to working with them, as well as SPJ/National, on other endeavors in the future.