A national memorial is important for paying tribute to journalists who perished not only while reporting on the front lines of battle, but those whose lives were lost while simply fulfilling their duty to deliver the news. That was the message delivered at a December 4, 2019, Congressional hearing by advocates for legislation to establish a Fallen Journalists Memorial in Washington, DC.
“Washington has many monuments to those who have sacrificed their lives to protect our freedoms,” said Barbara Cochran, President of the Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation, in testimony before the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. “Yet there is no memorial on public land to the journalists who have made the same sacrifice to protect those same freedoms.”
Cochran also highlighted the Foundation’s partnership with the News Media Alliance in pushing for Congressional enactment of the legislation.
Cochran is an experienced news executive who is leading the effort to raise funds to design, develop, construct and maintain a memorial “that will be an enduring tribute to the reporters, photojournalists, producers, editors and others who have died while performing their jobs as journalists,” she stated.
Legislation in Congress (H.R. 3465 in the House and S. 1969 in the Senate) would authorize the Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation to lead the effort to build the memorial on federal land without the use of any taxpayer funds.
The legislation was introduced on June 25, 2019, by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rob Portman (R-OH), and Representatives Grace Napolitano (D-CA) and Tom Cole (R-OK) around the anniversary of the deadliest attack on journalists in U.S. history, which took place at the office of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, resulting in the deaths of five newspaper employees.
“Journalists put their lives on the line every day to protect our democracy as well as a free and independent press,” stated Rep. Napolitano in a statement before the Subcommittee. “Located all over the nation’s capital are federal monuments dedicated to Americans who have sacrificed their lives while promoting the values of our democracy, and it is long overdue that we have a similar permanent commemorative work to honor the journalists who put their lives on the line at home and abroad to bring us the truth and defend our first amendment rights.”
The Subcommittee hearing was the second step in a process that the Foundation hopes will lead to Congressional enactment of the legislation in 2020. The Fallen Journalists Memorial Act cleared its first hurdle on September 24, when the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission reviewed the legislation, as required under the Commemorative Works Act.
In a letter to Rep. Raul Grijalva, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, the Commission “offered support for the purpose and need to establish a commemorative work honoring journalists who have sacrificed their lives as guardians of democracy and for a free and independent press.”
Click here for Cochran’s full testimony, as well as an archived video of the hearing.
You can contact your representative/senators in Congress to encourage action on the legislation and/or access digital ads provided by the Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation that you can run on your websites in support of the memorial.
Paul Boyle is the Senior Vice President of Public Policy at News Media Alliance.