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SPJ supports NPR journalists facing challenges from State Department


Patricia Gallagher Newberry, SPJ National President, 513-702-4065,
Zoë Berg, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-920-4785,

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists supports National Public Radio journalists who are being challenged by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“Mary Louise Kelly and Michele Kelemen of NPR should not be punished for asking tough questions and doing their work of informing the public,” said SPJ National President Patricia Gallagher Newberry.

During an interview Friday, Pompeo became angry when Kelly, co-host of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” asked whether he thinks he owes former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch an apology. After refusing to answer the question during the interview and lashing out at Kelly, he reportedly screamed obscenities and insulted her intelligence following the interview.

Then on Monday, the State Department barred Kelemen from flying on the plane Pompeo was taking to Ukraine.

SPJ stands by Kelly for doing her job to hold those in power accountable and remaining professional despite bullying attempts. And the Society condemns the actions of the State Department in prohibiting Kelemen from doing her job.

“It’s a journalist’s responsibility to ask government officials tough questions. And it’s a government official’s job to answer those questions,” Newberry said. “Journalists shouldn’t be berated or punished for trying to gather and report information to the American people.”

Kelly was one of the NPR/Minnesota Public Radio journalists who won SPJ’s Ethics in Journalism Award in 2018. She is also confirmed to speak at the Excellence in Journalism 2020 conference in Washington, D.C., in September.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund or give to the SPJ Foundation.


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