National Press Club

Journalism Institute announces Jim Kuhnhenn as new Press Freedom Fellow

June 14, 2019 | By Julie Moos | jmoos@press.org

Julie Moos, executive director of the National Press Club Journalism Institute, the non-profit affiliate of the National Press Club, announced the appointment of veteran journalist Jim Kuhnhenn as its 2019-2020 Press Freedom Fellow. Established in 2016, the fellowship helps direct advocacy for press freedoms in the United States and abroad.

Kuhnhenn, a past member of the National Press Club, has been a journalist for 40 years. He was Washington bureau chief for the Kansas City Star, a politics editor and congressional correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers, and an economics, politics and White House reporter for the Associated Press.

He is a past president of the Washington Press Club Foundation and a past member of the congressional Standing Committee of Correspondents. He has been a speaker for the Media Literacy Project and a guest lecturer at a number of university journalism classes.

“A free and independent press, at home and abroad, is essential to enlighten people about the events and decisions that affect their lives,” Kuhnhenn said. “I’m honored to have this opportunity to help the National Press Club and its Journalism Institute in their mission to remove free press barriers and increase transparency to keep citizens well-informed and their governments and institutions accountable.”

Kuhnhenn added that from global capitals to local courthouses, press freedoms are under increasing threat. Journalists have been killed, gone missing or been legally targeted for pursuing news. Political polarization in the United States and online misinformation have created a hostile climate and a skeptical audience for the news media. Moreover, financial pressures have added to the difficulties news organizations face in reporting the news.

"The pressures facing journalism here and across the globe can have a chilling effect on the dissemination of accurate information,” said Club President Alison Fitzgerald Kodjak. “We need to stand as a bulwark for press freedoms, draw attention to the risks and obstacles journalists face, and defend their right to seek the facts, no matter how elusive. Jim Kuhnhenn has the commitment and the experience to help us in this crucial task.”

"Our priority as a journalism advocacy institution is unabridged freedom of the press,” said Barbara Cochran, president of the Institute's board of directors and the Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Journalism at the University of Missouri. "With Jim Kuhnhenn as our Press Freedom Fellow, we will work to put a spotlight on any efforts to limit the ability of the news media to operate safely and free from interference.”