National Press Club honors former Denver Post editor with Press Freedom Award
August 23, 2018 | By John Donnelly | firstname.lastname@example.org
The National Press Club Board of Governors announced Aug. 23 that Chuck Plunkett, a former editor at the Denver Post, will receive a 2018 John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award.
In April of this year, Plunkett was responsible for producing a special six-page editorial section of the Denver Post that took the extraordinary step of criticizing the paper’s owners, a private equity company called Alden Global Capital.
The lead editorial in the special section -- titled, “As Vultures Circle, the Denver Post Must be Saved" -- decried the decimation of the newspaper’s staff in recent years even as Alden Global Capital had reaped profits from the paper that exceeded the industry norm.
“A flagship local newspaper like The Post plays a critically important role in its city and state," the editorial said. "It provides a public record of the good and the bad, serves as a watchdog against public and private corruption, offers a free marketplace of ideas and stands as a lighthouse reflective and protective of — and accountable to — a community’s values and goals."
Two photographs included in the section -- one from the Pulitzer-winning team of 2013 and the other from five years later -- dramatically depicted the shrinking of the paper’s workforce. The photo quickly went viral online.
Plunkett resigned from the Denver Post on May 3 after the paper tried to block him from publishing another editorial criticizing Alden Global Capital. He is now director of CU News Corp, which produces student journalism at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
“Chuck Plunkett’s decision to publish a newspaper that called out its owners for mismanaging that paper was a remarkable act of courage,” said Andrea Edney, president of the National Press Club. “That special section of the Denver Post gave voice to papers all around the country that have seen their ranks thinned. It was a clarion call to save local journalism.”
The National Press Club, founded in 1908, is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists. The Club’s John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award is given each year to both domestic and international recipients who courageously manifest the principles of free expression and transparency.
Earlier this year, the Club announced that the international Aubuchon winners for 2018 are Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, two Reuters journalists in Myanmar who have been jailed for months. They are standing trial on trumped-up charges of violating that country’s secrecy laws, but their prosecution is believed to have been triggered by their publication of first-hand accounts of murders of Rohingyas by state security forces.
Plunkett and the Reuters journalists will be celebrated at the Fourth Estate Dinner on Nov. 29 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Proceeds from the dinner support the National Press Club Journalism Institute, the Club’s non-profit arm, which conducts press-freedom programs and professional development seminars.
For information, contact John M. Donnelly, chairman, National Press Freedom Committee, at 202-650-6738.