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:
- American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
- American Copy Editors Society
- American Society of Journalists and Authors
- Asian American Journalists Association
- Broadcast Education Association
- Center for Scholastic Journalism, Kent State University
- College Media Advisers, Inc.
- The First Amendment Project
- Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Inc.
- Illinois College Press Association
- Illinois Community College Journalism Association
- Inter American Press Association
- Investigative News Network
- IRE, Investigative Reporters & Editors, Inc.
- Journalism Education Association
- Mid-America Press Institute
- National Association of Black Journalists
- National Association of Hispanic Journalists
- National Association of Science Writers, Inc.
- National Coalition Against Censorship
- National Federation of Press Women
- National Press Photographers Association
- National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association
- National Newspaper Association
- National Press Foundation
- National Scholastic Press Association
- National Society of Newspaper Columnists
- National Youth Rights Association
- The Poynter Institute
- Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society for High School Journalists
- Religion Newswriters Association
- Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
- Society of American Business Editors & Writers
- Society for Collegiate Journalists
- Society of Environmental Journalists
- Society of Professional Journalists
- Society for Features Journalism
- Tully Center for Free Speech at Syracuse University