NEW YORK—More than 20,000 Americans have called on the Republican and Democratic parties and the presumptive presidential nominees to end attacks on journalists and create an open environment for reporters at the upcoming Republican and Democratic national conventions taking place beginning next week.

A petition will be delivered Monday to the campaigns of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton by the free expression organization PEN America—in partnership with The Nation, People for the American Way, Free Press, In These Times, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, The Intercept, The Progressive, and others—urging the candidates not only to uphold the freedom of the press enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, but also to denounce journalist intimidation tactics used by campaign supporters. Signatories to the petition include Stephen Sondheim, Judy Blume, Neil Gaiman, Martin Amis, Anne Tyler, Robert Caro, Lois Lowry, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Esmeralda Santiago, George Saunders, Jonathan Lethem, Jay McInerney, John Green, Colum McCann, Jane Smiley, and Khaled Hosseini; House of Cards creator Beau Willimon; journalists Andrew Solomon, Janet Malcolm, Philip Gourevitch, Larissa MacFarquhar, and Jacob Weisberg; artist Fred Tomaselli; and more.

“With a pivotal election looming, the public urgently needs up-to-date information and analysis,” said Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of PEN America. “A free press undergirds our democracy, offering a direct link between the candidates and the electorate they seek to serve. The barring of journalists from access to the campaigns they are covering and the harassment and threats made in retaliation for unwelcome stories stand in the way of journalists trying to do their job. The party conventions must guarantee reporters access to the candidates and the proceedings without interference.”

Accusations of press bias and inaccuracy during election season are nothing new. But the 2016 presidential campaign has set a new high for harassment and threats against the media. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has been cited for numerous personal attacks on journalists, including comments disparaging of gender, physical disabilities, and other attributes unrelated to their coverage; revoking access to press and campaign events for more than a half dozen major news outlets; and turning a blind eye to campaign supporters’ online harassment and abuse of reporters who present the candidate in anything short of a flattering light. Clinton has faced criticism—albeit less severe—for her failure to give a general press conference since December 2015.


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression at home and abroad. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at

Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director: [email protected], +1 212.334.1660