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Thursday, 29 July 2021

AP staffers demand 'more clarity' over firing of young journalist for pro-Palestine activism

In the wake of the 22-year-old journalist’s firing for her pro-Palestinian activism in college, AP staffers are asking for 'transparency' from the news outlet

Haitham Nouri , Saturday 29 May 2021
Emily Wilder. Twitter
Emily Wilder. Twitter
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In an open letter published by more than 100 Associated Press employees, AP staffers from across the world demanded 'more clarity' from the company about why Emily Wilder, 22, was fired as a news associate in Phoenix only three weeks into her job.

The Associated Press has been facing criticism for firing the young journalist over her pro-Palestinian activism in college.

"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," the staffers said in the letter.

The staffers said AP's lack of communication after Wilder's firing "gives us no confidence that any one of us couldn’t be next, sacrificed without explanation."

The employees noted that interest groups involved in targeting Wilder were "celebrating their victory and turning their sights on more AP journalists."

"Once we decide to play this game on the terms of those acting in bad faith, we can’t win," the letter said.

In a viral Twitter thread last week, the Stanford College Republicans branded Wilder, who is Jewish, as an "anti-Israel agitator" by highlighting her old social media posts critical of Israel and her participation in pro-Palestinian groups and rallies during her time at Stanford.

Wilder had started at the AP on 3 May as a news associate for the Western U.S., based in Phoenix.

On Wednesday, just over two weeks later, the AP informed her that she was being terminated for violations of its social media policy that took place after she became an employee.

In the days before her firing, Wilder had been targeted in conservative media for her pro-Palestinian rights activism while a student at Stanford University, where she graduated in 2020.

AP spokeswoman Lauren Easton would not say what Wilder had written that violated the policy. Wilder said she was not given specifics.

On Sunday, she tweeted: “objectivity’ feels fickle when the basic terms we use to report news implicitly take a claim. Using ‘Israel’ but never ‘Palestine’, or ‘war’ but not ‘siege and occupation’ are political choices - yet media make those exact choices all the time without being flagged as biased’."

AP prohibits employees from openly expressing their opinions on political matters and other public issues for fear that could damage the news organization's reputation for objectivity and jeopardize its many reporters around the world.

In an interview Wilder said ‘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,’ she said.

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