On May 1-3 leaders from around the world gathered in Washington, DC to mark World Press Freedom Day, a United Nations organized event promoting freedom of the press. This is the first year the event has been held in the United States. As host, this was a great opportunity for our country to promote the cherished American value of press freedom to other countries around the world. Yet, cherished as this value is, the United States is in no position to lecture the rest of the world. Journalists are routinely censored, punished and silenced here in this country – student journalists.
To point out this fact, NYRA signed on to a letter written by the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) pointing out the lack of press freedoms for students in this country. A total of 40 organizations took out a full page ad in the Washington Post with an open letter to President Obama on student press freedoms. The letter forcefully pointed out the hypocrisy of lecturing the world about press freedom while doing nothing to protect the freedom of student journalists here at home.
The letter has already had an impact. SPLC made sure that Eric Newton from the Knight Foundation, one of the sponsors of the event, saw the letter. During the event, Newton called out the US for violating the rights of students.