AP Staffers Demand ‘Clarity’ On Emily Wilder Firing With Powerful Open Letter

In an open letter to their employer, more than 100 Associated Press employees are demanding “more clarity” as to why the news organization fired a journalist last week in the wake of a right-wing “smear campaign” about her previous pro-Palestinian activism.

On Monday, AP staffers around the world asked for “transparency” in the firing of 22-year-old Emily Wilder, who had only started at the outlet earlier this month. 

“As employees of The Associated Press, at all levels and across the globe, we strongly believe in our organization’s stated commitment to fairness and advancing the power of facts. Journalists demand transparency from the subjects of our reporting and seek to hold the powerful accountable,” the letter begins.

The letter goes on to lambast “the way the AP has handled the firing of Emily Wilder and its dayslong silence internally.”

“We demand more clarity from the company about why Wilder was fired. It remains unclear — to Wilder herself as well as staff at large — how she violated the social media policy while employed by the AP,” they wrote, adding that they’re “concerned about the ramifications of this decision for newsroom morale and AP’s credibility.”

The letter questions how the AP will respond in the future when critics “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,” employees wrote.

Ultimately, the letter asks in a bulleted list that the AP provide clarity on Wilder’s “disciplinary process,” a “forum to discuss what AP deems best social media practices,” ”a clear commitment to and playbook for supporting staff targeted by harassment campaigns,” and “the formation of a diverse committee to update the AP’s social media policy to support evidence-based, nuanced social posting.”

An AP spokesperson told HuffPost in an emailed statement that the news organization “looks forward to continuing the conversation with staff about AP’s social media policy” and that Wilder was “dismissed for violating AP’s social media policy during her time at AP.” 

The statement also said the AP’s “longstanding social media policy is negotiated with the News Media Guild, which represents AP’s U.S. news staffers.” It did not say which part of the policy Wilder violated.

“Every AP journalist is responsible for safeguarding our ability to report with fairness and credibility,” the statement read. It added: “Our News Values and Principles, including our social media guidelines, exist to ensure that the comments of one person cannot jeopardize our journalism or the journalists who are covering the story. AP is in the business of fact-based journalism. It is who we are as a global news organization.” 

Wilder was fired last week after a conservative group at her alma mater, the Stanford College Republicans, launched a bad-faith campaign against her, pointing to her criticism of pro-Israel hard-liners including the late billionaire and Trump supporter Sheldon Adelson, as well as her participation in the group Students for Justice in Palestine in college.

The newly minted AP staffer later issued a statement saying she’d been fired for violating the organization’s social media policy, despite AP management neglecting to tell her which posts violated the policy.

“In the end … it appears they took it as an opportunity to make me a scapegoat,” Wilder wrote in a statement on social media after her firing. 

“This is heartbreaking as a young journalist so hungry to learn from the fearless investigative reporting of AP journalists ― and do that reporting myself. It’s terrifying as a young woman who was hung out to dry when I needed support from my institution most.”

Read the letter from AP staffers below.

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