In 2008, the world's leading professional organization for journalists held forums in cities across the country to examine "The First Amendment, Freedom of the Press and the Future of Journalism" to celebrate the National Press Club's Centennial Anniversary.
Launched to mark the Club's centennial celebration, the project worked with leading journalism schools, local press clubs and other civic organizations to examine where the news business is going and how to protect its core values.
At each stop, the Club recruited a panel drawn from top management and leading reporters in print, broadcast and the Internet, as well as from journalism school faculty and media advocacy groups. By the end of 2008, the Club's forums had reached audiences at 38 locations in 35 states, involving about 130 panel members. Thousands of people viewed the forums live and had opportunities to ask questions, while many thousands more watched and heard the forums on television, radio and Internet webcasts.
In January 2009, Gil Klein, director of the Centennial Forums Project, submitted an Interim Report, "Journalism at a Juncture," to the Club's membership. It detailed the findings of the project in 2008 and included observations and recommendations from most of the panel members.
"With this project, the Club has truly become a national organization," said NPC President Donna Leinwand. "We want to be at the forefront of the news media's transformation, helping to find new ways of communicating our stories and ensuring that traditional journalistic values are upheld. In all this turmoil, we have an obligation to defend a free press and access to information."
Each event began with a preview of the Club's documentary, "The National Press Club: A Century of Headlines." Free copies of the documentary were given to the audience and distributed to journalism students.
Gil Klein is director of the National Press Club's Centennial Project. For 22 years until the end of 2007, he was a national correspondent for the Media General News Service. Writing for 25 newspapers in the Southeast, he covered the White House, Supreme Court, Congress, political conventions and presidential campaigns. He specialized in Southeastern issues and national education stories.
Klein was president of the National Press Club in 1994 and wrote the Club's centennial history, Reliable Sources: 100 Years at the National Press Club, which is available from Turner Publishing.
He was a reporter for the Gwinnett Daily News in Georgia and the Tampa Tribune before coming to Washington.
A graduate of Rollins College in Florida, Klein earned a Master's degree in journalism at the American University in Washington, D.C.