HomeNewsSunrise Movement Blocks Reporter From Covering Climate Change Rally

Sunrise Movement Blocks Reporter From Covering Climate Change Rally

A journalist, Josh Siegel, who covers energy and environment for the Washington Examiner, expressed dissatisfaction after being barred from attending a climate event organized by the Sunrise Movement.

The event featured prominent figures such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Siegel asserted that he was denied access to the event, and he believes this decision was made due to the editorial leanings of the Washington Examiner, the outlet for which he reports.

The exclusion of Siegel raised concerns among reporters nationwide, with many questioning the decision to prevent someone who regularly covers climate issues from attending the event.

This incident highlights the ongoing debate about media access, freedom of the press, and the relationship between journalists and the organizations they cover, particularly in the context of political and environmental issues.

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“I am not comfortable drawing attention to myself, and away from my work, but as @sunrisemvmt begins their D.C. rally with @AOC and @SenSanders, I thought it was important to say that Sunrise would not grant me a credential to attend the event because I work for the @dcexaminer. … At a time when climate advocates are trying to unite the country, picking and choosing coverage seems wrong, especially when I am known for my fair, non-ideological reporting,” Siegel tweeted.

The Washington Examiner is a well-established news website based in Washington, D.C., known for its coverage of Congress, the White House, and the campaign trail.

On the other hand, the Sunrise Movement gained prominence in 2017, leading up to the midterms, focusing on grassroots organizing efforts to encourage major universities to divest their endowments from fossil fuel holdings.

The movement’s goal was to mobilize students and activists for a “Sunrise Semester” leading up to Election Day.

It has been disclosed that the Sunrise Movement receives funding from affluent anti-fossil fuel groups such as the Rockefeller Family Fund and the Wallace Global Fund.

In an interview with Western Wire, Josh Siegel shared his experience of being denied access to the Sunrise Movement’s climate event. Siegel acknowledged that the movement might be grappling with the challenges of handling large-scale media attention, but he expressed frustration at the possibility of being singled out. The incident underscores broader discussions about media access and transparency in coverage, especially in the context of organizations and movements focused on environmental and political issues.

“I’ve been covering them [Sunrise Movement] and the Green New Deal for months and they’ve never responded to any of my inquires. Sunrise, a new organization, they’re pretty young, so I’m sure they’ve been overwhelmed with the attention, so some of that is understandable. But I haven’t found a colleague who just hasn’t blanketly not received any response,” Siegel said.

Despite the Sunrise Movement’s efforts to address the situation, Josh Siegel remains skeptical of their response.

“I had other reporters from outlets such as Politico tell me they had RSVP’d after the date that I did and they were able to get in, no question,” Siegel said. “Sunrise did attempt to, after they saw the uproar, they did attempt to explain away and say, ‘oh, we turned down a dozen outlets, you’re not the only one.’ But I find that to be dubious in that no one else has spoken up about that and as you saw, I’m pretty known on the beat.”

Siegel noted the swift support he received from numerous journalists who immediately tweeted in his defense, commending him as a fair-minded and honest reporter. Zack Colman, a Politico reporter and Siegel’s predecessor at the Examiner, covered the rally and shared his thoughts on Twitter.

“This is a bad look, @sunrisemvmt. @SiegelScribe is a stand-up reporter who covers climate and energy fairly and responsibly.”

Many of Siegel’s fellow journalists expressed deep disappointment in the organization’s handling of the incident, and defended both Siegel and the Examiner’s coverage.

Bill Loveless, Director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy’s Energy Journalism Initiative, tweeted, “This is wrong. @SiegelScribe and his colleague @JohnDSiciliano are solid reporters whose work I read daily.”

Likewise, Ben Storrow of E&E News, tweeted, “Add me to the chorus of climate and energy reporters who think this is ridiculous. @SiegelScribe is a tremendous reporter. Not only does restricting press access along perceived partisan lines dilute the climate debate, it harms our democracy. A bad look for @sunrisemvmt.”

Lisa Friedman, climate change reporter for the New York Times, agreed with Storrow’s assessment and responded, “+1. Very disappointing to hear @sunrisemvmt would engage in this sort of behavior.”

Julia Pyper of Greentech Media offered similar support.“#PressFreedom isn’t always convenient, which is precisely why it’s central to a functioning democracy. The definition of media has changed and lines have blurred. But responsible and informed journalists like @SiegelScribe should always have the ability to do their job.”

Siegel told Western Wire he appreciated the support from other reporters and even encouraging emails from the public. “Journalists always look out for each other, especially if you’re doing good work,” Siegel said.

Siegel highlighted a broader trend where organizations increasingly grant press access only to outlets they perceive as favorable. He expressed concern that this trend contributes to the growing polarization in the country.

“Talking in echo chambers, that’s a problem in general in the media landscape, where people read what they’re used to reading or with what they’re comfortable. That goes for television as well. And I think people should want to see as many perspectives as possible, so it just doesn’t make a ton of sense for groups to try and pick and choose and say ‘only these friendly audiences are going to tell my story the right way and no one else will be exposed.’ I just think that creates more tension … and creates more isolated ways we obtain our news. I think it’s just kind of bad for society overall,” Siegel said.

Even though denied direct access to the event, Siegel managed to cover the rally through a live stream. He expressed his commitment to delivering fair coverage of the Sunrise Movement in the future.

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Nishan Dahal
Nishan Dahal
Nishan Dahal is a versatile writer and skilled editor with a passion for storytelling and a keen eye for detail. At Western Wire, Nishan leverages his expertise to craft compelling narratives and provide insightful analysis across a range of topics, from breaking news to entertainment updates. His commitment to journalistic excellence and accuracy makes him an invaluable member of the Western Wire team.

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