SPLC Open Letter to Obama: What World Press Freedom Day 2011 Can Mean for Students’ Rights

By April 15, 2011

May 3, 2011, kicks off the first-ever U.S.-hosted World Press Freedom Day, an event established in 1993 to commemorate the underlying principles of press freedom and draw attention to the frequent hurdles journalists face to keep the public informed. In anticipation of the event, the Student Press Law Center (SPLC), one of our frequent allies in defending free speech on campus, has issued an open letter to President Obama that appears in The Washington Post today as a half-page advertisement (page A21). FIRE is proud to be one of the signatories. While we join the SPLC in its enthusiasm for the event, we also join the SPLC in its desire to use the event as an opportunity to acknowledge the areas in which America’s free expression freedoms fall short and how they can be improved to respect the First Amendment in its entirety.

The letter, signed by an impressive coalition of 38 different free expression and journalism organizations, asks President Obama and his administration to

publicly acknowledge the unfinished work of press freedom in our own nation, to denounce the shameful practice of stifling candid discussion of school issues, and to ensure that this World Press Freedom Day concludes with a global commitment to protect the rights of all journalists, even the youngest.

As our extensive case work in defending expression on college campuses shows, we couldn’t have made a better request ourselves.

Those signing the open letter include: