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Tell WUTC and local lawmakers: We support free media

This petition had 207 supporters

On March 11th, Jacqui Helbert, a producer for WUTC, an NPR affiliate associated with The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, published an article on a meeting between Cleveland High School GSA and local politicians. During this meeting, the "bathroom" bill was discussed, where Tennessee State Senator Mike Bell reduced these teens to tears and called transgender people "hogwash". 

Unfortunately, Sen. Bell as well as others didn't want the bad press, and used the fact that WUTC is primarily funded by state institutions as pressure on UTC to kill the story that made the state senator look bad and fire the author of said story. The firing was justified because Jacqui, despite wearing a press badge and carrying around a rather large microphone, didn't approach the public officials and let them know she was recording. 

Politicians cannot and should not be involved in pressuring the independent press. The firing of Jacqui Helbert, as well as pulling an article which was critical of state politicians, under the guise of ethics is an affront to journalist everywhere and our first amendment.  Chattanooga will not stand for local lawmakers trying to influence the independent and free press. Nor will they stand for the press cowering to baseless threats made by public officials. 

We come together today to demand WUTC apologize, reinstate the article in full, and offer Jacqui her job back. We also call for all of the politicians who were involved in threatening our free press to push for UTC to take action to create policies ensuring WUTC remains independent and free from external, political influence. Until these actions are taken, we will refuse to donate to WUTC, and ask all sponsors of WUTC to take action and drop WUTC. 


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