The following recommendations were drafted by members of NWU organizing via the Freelance Solidarity Project (FSP). We believe in the power of unions to counter retaliation within newsrooms and workplaces and defend workers’ and citizens’ rights to dissent at local, national, and international levels. While these recommendations involve changes in policy and practice by political leaders and media organizations, organized workers play a key role in making these demands a reality.

For Political Leaders:

Institute an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, release all political prisoners, halt U.S. military funding for Israel, and guarantee access and protection for journalists in the region.

Media workers in Gaza and the surrounding region will not be safe until Israel’s devastating military campaign ends. UN human rights experts have been raising the alarm since October that Palestinians are at “a risk for genocide.” In recent months, these experts have repeatedly cautioned that Israel’s blockade on aid to Gaza leaves Palestinians at risk for or already experiencing famine. Children have already died of starvation, in addition to the thousands who have died as a result of Israeli bombings and ground operations. As we go to press, more than 34,000 people have been killed in Gaza.

A ceasefire, release of hostages and political prisoners, and unfettered access to food and medical aid for Palestinians are baseline conditions for media workers in Gaza and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In addition, Israeli and U.S. leaders must guarantee that journalists working covering Israel and Palestine are protected from military attacks, as mandated under international human rights law. As the largest supplier of military support to Israel, the United States must use its leverage by halting financial aid and weapons shipments that are used to kill Palestinians. Further, all incidents in which Israeli military actions have resulted in the deaths or injuries of journalists and their families need to be independently investigated. Finally, Israel must end its blockade on international journalists entering the Gaza Strip.

For Western Media Outlets:

Proactively hire, retain, and listen to media workers impacted by the war on Gaza.

There is a long history of retaliation against Middle Eastern, North African, and Muslim people for expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people or criticizing Israeli state action. It does not happen in a vacuum. Research suggests that Muslims and Arabs are among the most dehumanized groups in the United States and that hatred towards these groups tends to rise following certain types of terrorist attacks, as it did after 9/11 and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment also corresponds with support for foreign policy actions, such as drone strikes in the Middle East or the torture of Arab and Muslim detainees. In the first three months of the war on Gaza, complaints to the Council on American-Islamic Relations of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate and discrimination rose by 178 percent.

Amid this pressure, those with ties to the region and its cultures—to Gaza in particular—have a distinct vantage point on the war on Gaza and can contribute immense value to media organizations striving to build trust and engage with communities on the ground that are experiencing disproportionate and ongoing harm.

Media organizations must take proactive steps to protect such workers from retaliation, harassment, and harm. They should also track the diversity of their workforces—including details about which workers are receiving high-profile, high-reward opportunities—and make that data public.

Further, publications should invite Middle Eastern, North African, and Muslim workers to provide input on their coverage of Israel and Palestine. For information about how newsrooms can more accurately cover the war on Gaza, see the media resource guide compiled by members of the Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association.

Stand up to efforts by interest groups to label criticism of Zionism or Israel as antisemitism.

Media organizations and cultural institutions should anticipate and resist pressure from pro-Israeli interest groups like Canary Mission, StopAntisemitism.Org, HonestReporting, and CAMERA. Such groups routinely label speech critical of Israel or supportive of Palestinians as antisemitic and seek to influence employers to discipline or dismiss crucial media workers. When employers bow to such pressure, it is often Middle Eastern, North African, and Muslim workers, particularly workers of color, who pay the price. We call on all media organizations to stand by their employees and freelancers in the face of attempted character assassinations and smear campaigns.

Media organizations must make a public commitment to resisting pressure from interest groups. Organizations should publicly and transparently document attempted pressure, as part of their commitment to journalistic ethics. Media industry employers can work together, in collaboration with media unions, to resist these pressure groups.

Re-examine policies related to political speech and the disproportionate impact of such policies on marginalized workers.

NWU’s data suggest that, in the case of Israel and Palestine, policies and practices designed to limit political speech are disproportionately impacting workers from marginalized backgrounds and identities. In light of this, newsrooms must critically re-examine their policies regarding political speech and social media. Achieving true diversity and inclusion will require identifying disparities and double standards in company attitudes and procedures.

Policy changes should be made with input from rank-and-file workers, particularly staffers and freelancers who are most likely to be impacted, and clearly communicated to those workers. Policies that cannot be enforced equitably, or that reflect built-in bias, should be discontinued.

Finally, freelancers should not be subject to the same restrictions on political speech as staffers; it is inequitable to enforce the same restrictions on workers who lack the same benefits and security as staff.

Rethink “objectivity.”

In an era when newsroom leaders claim to be striving for increased diversity, media organizations must rethink what objectivity actually looks like—instead of penalizing marginalized workers for speaking truth to power. At the same time that Middle Eastern, North African, and Muslim workers are facing discipline for perceived bias in their perspectives on Gaza, reporters who have worked for Israeli state institutions, including the military, have been invited to cover sensitive stories repeatedly. In some cases, bias is institutionalized, as in the use of style guides that favor Israeli perspectives, or in allowing the IDF’s military censor to review and perhaps even shape coverage.

Media organizations should undertake transparent reviews of their policies and practices pertaining to objectivity and bias, with input from workers, and make public the results of those reviews. In addition, where feasible, media organizations should employ a public editor to advocate for fair and balanced reporting. All this amounts to an overdue reckoning that many journalists, especially those from marginalized backgrounds, have been demanding for a long time.

Support and protect freelancers.

Freelancers are uniquely vulnerable to retaliation for their political speech, due to their already precarious working conditions. At the very least, any policies that freelancers are expected to adhere to should be clearly outlined when their contracts are established. Contracts should provide strong protections against financial harm resulting from the cancellation of an assignment due to external circumstances. They should also clearly outline pathways to file grievances if a freelancer suspects retaliation for political speech or other unfair practices. Media organizations should follow the Freelance Solidarity Project’s Principles for Working With Freelancers and collaborate with NWU and freelancers to outline agreed-upon working conditions, via unilateral announcements.

Support unions.

Media organizations should voluntarily recognize union elections and bargain contracts in good faith.

For Workers and Unions:

Organize a union at your workplace.

Multiple cases in our analysis demonstrate the power of unions to protect workers from retaliation and arbitrary discipline. We encourage all media workers to continue the urgent business of organizing in order to fight the current wave of retaliation and prevent those targeted on the basis of their identity from being further isolated. Media workers in non-unionized workplaces can reach out to the NewsGuild at or the Writers Guild via Justin Molito at to discuss confidentially.

Already have a union? Demand protection against retaliation.

First: Know your rights.

Then: Use the power of your union to expand those rights. Use contract negotiations to demand specific protections against retaliation. “Just Cause” contract provisions, for example, can protect workers from politically motivated or arbitrary firings in retaliation for speech. Organize strong internal support networks or affiliation groups so that workers of marginalized identities are not easily isolated. Advocate for greater transparency and distributed power over editorial guidelines and decisions.

Unions should also be dogged and relentless about filing grievances on behalf of workers who have been disciplined for their speech. If the costs of retaliation begin to outweigh employers’ desire to control their workers, retaliation will become less common.

Workers can also use the power of their unions to demand transparency about the external forces that result in retaliation against their colleagues, such as editors’ or management’s ties to political advocacy, or pressures editors have faced from outside groups. Overall, workers should examine the recommendations in this report and consider how they can use their knowledge of their workplace and the collective power of their union to push for change.

Organize across the industry to fight retaliation and build solidarity.

Media unions should forge alliances with other unions and labor groups to resist retaliation against political speech as a workplace justice issue. Legislation to end “at will” employment even for non-union workers could radically change the power dynamics of Western media workplaces. Unions can play a central role in bringing those highly popular reforms to bear and broadening their reach, including at the local level. Staff unions should reach out to non-unionized and freelance media workers, including those organizing with NWU, to build industry-wide support systems that protect the most vulnerable workers against retaliation.

Finally, we encourage media unions to answer calls for solidarity from unions representing Palestinian workers, and from unions throughout the United States and Europe that are organizing strategically to interrupt the war machine and end the violence that threatens the lives of our union siblings in Palestine. For example, unions should support the legal efforts by the International Federation of Journalists and the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate for the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel’s pattern of killing journalists. Workers can also donate to the International Federation of Journalists’ Safety Fund.

Freelancers: Join the National Writers Union.

Freelancers are largely left out of the protections afforded to staff members under union contracts. The increasing precarity and volatility of media industry employment is a background condition throughout this report, as hundreds of media workers have been laid off since October 2023. The decline of unionized staff jobs means that journalists in general will be increasingly vulnerable to retaliation and targeting, unless freelancers organize to protect themselves and one another. Freelance media workers should get in touch with the Freelance Solidarity Project, organized under the Digital Media Division of the National Writers Union, at and join the union.

More Information and Opportunities for Action:

For updates on the Freelance Solidarity Project’s organizing around retaliation and violence against media workers, sign up here. To report an incident of retaliation, fill out this survey. Or to get involved, join the National Writers Union.