National Press Club

The Club’s First Amendment Mission

Angela Greiling Keane | March 12, 2013

The National Press Club is a lot of things to a lot of people. One of the things we strive to be is a place that focuses on press freedom, both overseas and right here at home. This week is Sunshine Week, a week devoted to open government that's celebrated by journalism groups all over the country.

Here at the Press Club this week, we've got something for everybody for Sunshine Week with events put on by our Freedom of the Press Committee and by our Speakers Committee. We're also playing host to other journalism groups' Sunshine Week events. We're happy to be the place where journalists want to be to talk about these important issues.

The Club's Freedom of the Press Committee is one of our biggest committees, and it can always use more members and help for its important mission. John Donnelly, who stepped down from the NPC board recently after many years of service, is its chairman and does yeoman's work deciding where to prioritize our press freedom activities. There are so many worthy things we could do that it's important to have people following developing issues and deciding where we should focus.

This year, the committee has led the Club to put out a statement calling on the Turkish government to release journalists it's holding in jail (more than either Iran or China is holding) and signed on to a letter urging the U.S. government to be better about responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. Both of those are important things for the Club to add its voice to.

This week, the committee hosted a panel last night on global antiterror laws and how they're used against journalists that committee vice chairwoman Rachel Oswald moderated. Tonight at 6:30, you can join in a discussion with the DC Open Government Coalition about the District of Columbia's transparency. Tomorrow, come learn about FOIA and how it can help you as a journalist as well as what improvements might be needed when we convene a panel of FOIA experts. Sunshine Week at the Press Club will be capped off by a luncheon speech by National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake.

Advocating for press freedom in our back yard or far away is one of the most important things we do. I hope to see you at this week's events to celebrate the rights we in the journalism community have and to find ways to push for more access to information that the public has a right to know.