Charlotte Talks: Press Freedom And Censorship Amid Nationwide Unrest

Jun 3, 2020

Thursday, June 4, 2020

As journalists take to both the streets and social media to report on nationwide protests over George Floyd’s killing, charges of censorship are being levied from the media to the president to protestors. We take a look at free speech in troubled times.

Protester in front of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police on Saturday.
Credit Jesse Steinmetz/WFAE

Censorship comes in many forms. President Trump blasted Twitter last week for flagging a tweet about mail-in ballots that contained “potentially misleading information,” and again for labeling a tweet about the Minnesota protest as "glorifying violence."

Twitter defended the move, saying the tweet violates its guidelines. Trump responded with an executive order aimed at limiting the “broad legal protections” of social media companies.

But censorship can also be physical. Last week, a CNN reporter and his crew were arrested on live television at a protest in Minneapolis, and there are multiple reports of journalists specifically being targeted by police. The Committee to Protect Journalists says there have been at least 125 press freedom violations in recent days as curfews are being enacted in more cities and protests show no signs of slowing down.

The murkier aspects of censorship involve intimidation, some from President Trump praising the "domination" of protesters to calling the press the "enemy of the people."

From social media to journalists on the front lines, a free press is being challenged by many forces. We speak to a panel of experts to navigate this tension and how to maintain a true freedom of the press.


Philip Napoli, professor at Duke University and author of “Social Media and the Public Interest: Media Regulation in the Disinformation Age

Courtney Radsch, Advocacy Director for the Committee to Protect Journalists