For Immediate Release: August 25th, 2004

An open letter to media covering the Republican National Convention

We write as representatives of peace and justice organizations that will convene in New York City during the Republican National Convention to express our dissent to the current administration¹s policies and practices, including the occupation of Iraq, attacks on our civil liberties, the impoverishment of our communities and the destruction of our environment.

We are concerned by the slant of some of the media coverage that has focused on potential violence or made unsubstantiated and sensationalist claims about the activists who will be demonstrating during the Convention.

We know that your goal is to provide interesting, compelling coverage. We hope you will work with us to make sure that your coverage also reflects the real sentiment and values of the demonstrators.

We offer the following suggestions as a way to ensure fair, balanced and accurate coverage of our issues and activities during the Republican Convention:

*PLEASE DO NOT REPEAT UNSUBSTANTIATED ALLEGATIONS.  The police and other authorities have made declarations about our plans at events in the past and during the lead up to this one.  Many claims have later been proven unfounded and serve only to distort our legitimate concerns and suggested solutions.  Journalists should practice due diligence by exploring the source of those claims and speaking with representatives of our various groups before reporting them.

*FIND THE COMPELLING, PERSONAL STORIES:  Many of us have firsthand experience with regard to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the erosion of women¹s rights, the struggle to combat poverty, and so many other issues that are of critical interest to Americans.  As those of you who have covered our stories well know, your readers and viewers will find them interesting and informative. We are happy to connect you with people and groups that can provide unique angles on our issues.

*PLEASE DEPICT US AS THE COMPLEX AND DIVERSE GROUPS WE ARE.  We are grandparents, teachers, students, business people, and military families. We come from the working class and the affluent class.  We are people from all ethnic and religious backgrounds; we reflect a range of political ideology.  Coverage of demonstrations often reflects greater biases in journalism, with a disproportionate focus on a white, male demographic.  We encourage you to provide your readers and viewers with an understanding of the full diversity of who is participating and why.

*EMPHASIZE THE ACTIONS AND SENTIMENTS OF THE MANY, NOT THE FEW:  In past demonstrations, the creative and non-violent actions of tens of thousands have been downplayed or ignored in the media in favor of covering a few individuals who have chosen tactics that involve property destruction.  We ask that you devote space in accordance with the numbers of people participating in different actions.

*RESPONSIBLY SCRUTINIZE THE ACTIONS OF THE POLICE TOWARD DEMONSTRATORS.  In our experience, the violence that has occurred at some events has often been provoked by the police, either in uniform or undercover.  We ask that you offer coverage of police violence to the same extent that you would scrutinize violence incited by others.

Some media outlets have, in hindsight, acknowledged a failure of accuracy in the coverage leading up to the Iraq war. The media¹s repetition of the administration¹s claims of Iraq¹s weapons of mass destruction and Al-Qaeda links was instrumental in drumming up political support for the war and squelching meaningful debate. Largely uncovered were the basic messages of the peace and justice movement that America¹s war in Iraq would lead to untold death and destruction, serve to further marginalize the United States in the global community and fill the ranks of our enemies with willing volunteers. The peace movement¹s claims have weathered the test of time far better than the Bush administration¹s claims.  Meanwhile, buried deep in the news lies the plight of communities worsening as health care, education, environmental programs, and even veteran benefits have been gutted. Our hope during the Republican Convention is to uncover these stories. Our goal is to show the American public and the world community that we are appalled by the actions of this administration and determined to hold them accountable.

The whole world will be watching what happens in New York during the Republican Convention. What they see should be an honest reflection of the issues that will determine the future of our country and our role within the world.  We hope you will step up to the task that lies before you. The future of our public discourse, which is the basis of our democracy, depends on it.

Thank you.

*Organizations for identification purposes only.

Partha Banerjee
New York Immigrant Rights Activist

Mavis Belisle
The Peace Farm

Medea Benjamin
Co-Founder, Global Exchange

Andrew Boyd
Billionaires for Bush

Michael Brune
Executive Director, Rainforest Action Network

Leslie Cagan
National Coordinator, United for Peace and Justice

Kelly Campbell
Co-founder, Sept 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Marilyn Clement
National Coordinator, The Campaign for a National Health Program NOW

David Cline
National President, Veterans For Peace
Coordinator, Vietnam Veterans Against the War

Larry Dansinger
Resources for Organizing and Social Change

Sam Diener
Editor, Peacework Magazine

Jodie Evans
Co-Founder, CODEPINK: Women for Peace

FAIR, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting

Lisa Fithian
Root Activist Network of Trainers/Co-Chair, United for Peace and Justice

Beth Fitzgerald
Peace Action*

Marvin Feldman
Tikkun Community

Henry and Jackie Florsheim
Brooklyn Peace Action

Kimberly Flynn
9/11 Environmental Action

Kim Gandy
President, National Organization for Women

Van Gosse
Co-Chair, Historians Against the War
Assistant Professor, Franklin and Marshall College

G. Simon Harak
For the National Office of the War Resisters League

Bill Hening
Vice President, Communications Workers of America Local 1180

Bob Henschen
Houston Nonviolent Action/War Resisters League

Jane Hirschmann
Parents¹ Coalition to End High Stakes Testing

Rev. Bryan Travis Hooper
Pastor, Washington Square United Methodist Church
Co-convener, NYC Forum of Concerned Religious Leaders

Saru Jayaraman
Director, Restaurant Opportunities Center

Van Jones
Executive Director, Ella Baker Center for Human

Heesook Kim
President, Young Koreans United of USA

Rita Lasar
Co-founder, Sept 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

EunSook Lee
Executive Director, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium

Nancy Lessin and Charlie Richardson
Co-founders, Military Families Speak Out

Michael Letwin
Co-Convener, New York City Labor Against the War

Mark LeVine
Foundation for Ethics and Meaning and Tikkun Community

George Martin
Milwaukee Coalition for a Just Peace/Peace Action Wisconsin

Kiyoko McCrae
Peace Williamsburg

Michael McPherson
Veterans for Peace

Ignacio Meneses   
National Network on Cuba

Gael Murphy
Co-Founder, CODEPINK: Women for Peace

Efia Nwangaza
Not In Our Name

Ralph Palladino
2nd VP, Local.1549 District Council 37 AFSCME

Judith Mahoney Pasternak
Journalist, War Resisters League

Baltazar Pinguel
American Friends Service Committee

Carl Pope
Executive Director, Sierra Club

Amy Quinn
Institute for Policy Studies (Peace Working Group)

Reality Check A31 Media Team

Josh Ruebner
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Nancy Roemer
US Labor Against War

Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou
Executive Director, New York Common Ground

John Sellers
Executive Director, Ruckus Society

Thia Stephan
Interfaith Communities United for Peace and Justice

Brenda Stokely
President of DC 1707AFSCME/AFL-CIO, Co-chair of New York Labor Against the

Damu Smith
Co-Founder, Black Voices for Peace

Kathy Spillar
Feminist Majority

RANT Collective, author and activist

Clifford J. Tasner
Billionaires For Bush

Melissa Van
Executive Director, Peace Action of New York State

Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Director, The Shalom Center

Bob Wing
Editor, War Times/Co-Chair, United for Peace and Justice

Shirley Young
Military Families Speak Out