Statement from the officers of the Oklahoma Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists & FOI Oklahoma about Mvskoke Media

Nov. 8, 2018

To the honorable members of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Council,

The Oklahoma Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and FOI Oklahoma stand in solidarity with our colleagues at Mvskoke Media and strenuously oppose NCA 18-180.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is one of three tribes in Oklahoma and one of a handful nationally with codified protections for its media outlets. When the tribe’s Independent Press Act was signed into law just three years ago, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation was hailed for taking such a huge step forward and giving its own people a chance to tell the tribe’s stories.

The potential adoption of NCA 18-180 represents not just a step, but a leap backwards in an era where journalists nationwide are already struggling with public misconceptions about the relationship between reporters and government officials. Under the current law, Mvskoke Media’s editorial board serves as a crucial buffer between the newsroom and the tribe’s government. The elimination of that safeguard opens the door for potentially reckless interference in the public’s right to know. Even if the current Secretary of the Nation has no interest in exercising day-to-day editorial control, there is no guarantee that his successors may follow suit.

We fully acknowledge that reporters are human and make mistakes occasionally, but those concerns should be addressed in civil conversations rather than through punitive legislation.

The Mvskoke Media staff has received state and national recognition for their fair, unflinching coverage of the good, the bad and the ugly within their communities. They must be given every opportunity to continue that work without fear of censorship attempts -- or worse -- from elected officials.

Respectfully,

The officers of the Oklahoma Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and FOI Oklahoma

William HickmanComment