Georgia Republicans declare war on the press with bill proposing an ‘ethics board’ for news organizations

Georgia Republicans declare war on the press with bill proposing an ‘ethics board’ for news organizations
Donald J. Trump/Shutterstock
Donald J. Trump/Shutterstock

Six Republicans in the Georgia House of Representatives have declared war on the media with a proposed law that would establish an “ethics board” for journalists and require news organizations to provide copies of audio or video recordings of interviews or photos to subjects who request them.

Sponsored by Georgia State Rep. Andy Welch, Georgia House Bill 734, a.k.a. the Ethics in Journalism Act of 2019, would force news organizations to pay any costs associated with meeting such requests and impose civil penalties for violations.

Bill 734 comes at a time when President Donald Trump repeatedly describes the mainstream press as “the enemy of the people,” although he has touted Breitbart News and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ Infowars as credible news organizations.

On Twitter, House Bill 734 has been met with angry responses. Ella Dorsey, a meteorologist with CBS affiliate WGCL-TV in Atlanta, described the bill as an attack on “the constitution and freedom of press” and asserted, “Get it together, Georgia. It’s time to stop going backwards.”

Jonathan Peters, who teaches media law at the University of Georgia, complained, “This is a terrible idea.” And media professional Charles Minshew, based in Missouri, accused the Republicans behind the bill of trying to “politicize the ethnics of journalism.”

The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) spoke out as well, posting an official statement on Twitter saying that “journalism ethics” should be used to “empower the public”—not to “silence journalism.”

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