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Give me liberty or give me COVID-19?

35 minutes

From Maine to California, people across the country have gathered at their state capitols over the past few weeks to protest stay at home orders issued by their governors in response to COVID-19. Protest is a hallmark of any democracy, but what happens when doing so comes with health risks? What is motivating people to take to the streets? How should media organizations cover the protests, and how do the people protesting feel about the media?

Joining us this week to explore some of those questions is Chris Fitzsimon, director and publisher of States Newsroom, a collective of nonprofit news sites that cover state politics in many of the places where the “reopen” protests have occurred. Fitzsimon talks about what his organization’s reporters have observed on the ground and the challenges that states face in deciding when to lift stay at home orders and restart economic activity.

We also discuss how this movement came together and whether it might have staying power beyond the immediate concerns related to COVID-19.

Additional Information

States Newsroom

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The McCourtney Institute for Democracy is starting a virtual book club! Our first selection will be How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. Join us for online meetings May 20 and 21. Visit to learn more and RSVP.

Related Episodes

Federalism in uncertain times

COVID-19 exposes democracy’s tensions

Tracing the past, present, and future of protests

How the Tea Party and the Resistance are upending American politics

Episode Credits

This episode was recorded on April 22, 2020. It was engineered by Jenna Spinelle, edited by Chris Kugler, and reviewed by Emily Reddy.

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