Over 100 Associated Press staffers signed an open letter condemning the firing of journalist Emily Wilder, Axios reports.
Wilder, 22, was fired just days after being hired. She said in a statement that she was told she was fired for violating the company’s social media policy but an AP spokesperson would not say which posts violated the policy. The firing came after a coordinated campaign by the Stanford College Republicans accusing Wilder, who is Jewish, of being an “anti-Israel agitator” because she was a pro-Palestinian activist in college.
“The Stanford College Republicans launched a smear campaign against me, attempting to ‘expose’ my already public story of activism for Palestinian human rights at Stanford University,” Wilder said in a statement. “I was transparent with my editors and they reassured me I would not face punishment for my previous activism.”
Less than 48 hours later, she said, she was fired without getting an explanation.
“I am one victim of the asymmetrical enforcement of rules around objectivity and social media that has censored so many journalists -- particularly Palestinian journalists and other journalists of color -- before me,” she said. “The compassion that drove my activism is part of what led me to be a reporter committed to just, critical, fact-based coverage of under-told stories. Now, after being fired after less than three weeks at my job, I have to ask what kind of message this sends to young people who are hoping to channel righteous indignation or passion for justice into impactful storytelling.”
The AP would not say what posts violated their social media policy.
“We have this policy so the comments of one person cannot create dangerous conditions for our journalists covering the story,” spokeswoman Lauren Easton said. “Every AP journalist is responsible for safeguarding our ability to report on this conflict, or any other, with fairness and credibility, and cannot take sides in public forums.”
Wilder, who said she was mindful of the company’s policy, retweeted video of a pro-Palestine protest, news footage of Israeli airstrikes, and shared a journalist’s tweet criticizing reporting for lacking historical context. She also shared a post detailing edits to a New York Times story that removed mentions of Palestinians being evicted from their homes.
“Because I have an opinion about an issue that is deeply political and personal doesn’t mean that I am incapable of fact-based, contextual and fair journalism,” Wilder told the AP. “There’s no question that this was all precipitated by an onslaught of harassment against me.”
More than 100 AP staffers signed a statement condemning the firing.
"Wilder was a young journalist, unnecessarily harmed by the AP’s handling and announcement of its firing of her," the letter said. "We need to know that the AP would stand behind and provide resources to journalists who are the subject of smear campaigns and online harassment."
"As journalists who cover contentious subjects, we are often the target of people unhappy with scrutiny. What happens when they orchestrate a smear campaign targeting another one of us? Interest groups are celebrating their victory and turning their sights on more AP journalists."
"They have routinely made journalists’ identities subject to attack. Once we decide to play this game on the terms of those acting in bad faith, we can’t win."