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Yearly on May 3, nations around the world celebrate World Press Freedom Day to recognize the role of journalists and news organizations in sustaining democracy. Never has this been clearer than now, during COVID-19, when our very lives depend on truthful information, public conversation, and probing accountability.

In the weeks leading up to World Press Freedom Day 2020, PEN America is celebrating excellent local reporting and recognizing the sacrifices journalists make to meet this vital mandate—even as their news outlets face mounting financial challenges and are forced to cut back on staff and distribution.

We invite you to join us in supporting local news and defending a free press—and in paying tribute to our local journalist heroes.

Local Journalist Heroes

Martha Bayne

Martha Bayne

South Side Weekly
Chicago, IL

Keri Blakinger

Keri Blakinger

The Marshall Project
Houston, TX

Gustavo Castro

Gustavo Castro H.

Enlace Latino NC
Raleigh, NC

Sky Chadde

Sky Chadde

Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting
Champaign, IL

Christine Chung

Christine Chung

THE CITY
New York, NY

Pagan by John Corley

John Corley

The Angolite, Louisiana State Penitentiary
West Feliciana, LA

James Dixon

James David Dickson

The Detroit News
Detroit, MI

Lyndsey Gilpin

Lyndsey Gilpin

Southerly
Durham, NC

Jeff Goertzen

Jeff Goertzen

Southern California News Group
Los Angeles, CA

Jake Goldstein-Street

Jake Goldstein-Street

The Daily at the University of Washington
Seattle, WA

Laura Herberg

Laura Herberg

WDET
Detroit, MI

Corrinne Hess

Corrinne Hess

Wisconsin Public Radio
Milwaukee, WI

Zainab Iqbal

Zainab Iqbal

Bklyner
Brooklyn, NY

Abby Johnston

Abby Johnston

The Texas Observer
Austin, TX

Michelle Kanaar and Nissa Rhee

Michelle Kanaar and Nissa Rhee

Borderless Magazine
Chicago, IL

Jock Lauterer

Jock Lauterer

The Durham VOICE
Durham, NC

Arthur Longworth

Arthur Longworth

Independent journalist
Monroe, WA — Washington State Reformatory

Victoria Merlino

Victoria Merlino

Queens Daily Eagle
Queens, NY

Natalie Moore

Natalie Moore

WBEZ
Chicago, IL

Vincent Schilling

Vincent Schilling

Indian Country Today
East Coast

Jessica Seaman

Jessica Seaman

The Denver Post
Denver, CO

Connor Sheets

Connor Sheets

AL.com and The Birmingham News
Birmingham, AL

Mike and Brandi Simons

Mike and Brandi Simons

The Tulsa World
Owasso, OK

Justine van der Leun

Justine van der Leun

Independent Journalist
Brooklyn, NY

Jeffrey Young

Jeffrey Young

The Prison Mirror, Minnesota Correctional Facility — Stillwater
Bayport, MN

Give a shoutout to a local journalist!

Thank A Journalist

This year, on World Press Freedom Day, PEN America, our Members, and our local allies will be sending thank you notes to local newsrooms and their journalists on the front line of COVID-19 coverage. Please join us by signing your name and using #ThankYouJournalists on social!

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7 More Things You Can Do to Thank a Journalist

1. SUBSCRIBE to a local news outlet or join its membership program. Encourage friends and family to do the same.
2. DONATE to a local news outlet. There are exceptional nonprofit and public media outlets across the country that need your support, too. Especially now.
3. SHARE news stories that show the impact of local news coverage on public health, government accountability, and community building.
4. SIGN the petition calling on elected and appointed officials to include vitally important support for local journalism in federal and state stimulus packages.
5. NOMINATE a local journalist or news outlet providing exceptional COVID-19 coverage.
6. LEARN how your local news source works using PEN America’s Transparency Tracker or register for a media literacy workshop.
7. ENGAGE with local journalists on local stories that need to be told.

Tell Congress: Local News is Critical in the Midst of a Pandemic

Sign the petition to Congress to include funding for local news in the next stimulus package. We’re calling for at least $5 billion to support local journalists and to make information accessible to communities of color, rural communities, working-class communities and immigrant communities.

More Resources

About World Press Freedom Day

Since 1993, the United Nations has marked World Press Freedom Day on May 3. In many countries, it has been an opportunity to affirm the fundamental principles of press freedom, celebrate the positive impact journalism has on communities, honor journalists for their work to hold the powerful accountable, and stand up on behalf of those who have been silenced, imprisoned, or killed.

An unprecedented global crisis has cast into stark relief just how essential a free and robust press is to each of us. Last year, PEN America brought World Press Freedom Day home to the United States for the first time. In 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic, we will do it again, fully focused on the heroic work that journalists across the country are doing on the front line of this emergency—and even as in many cases their own livelihoods and news organizations are in peril, and their health at risk.

COVID-19 highlights the myriad essential protections that a free press offers society, as well as the importance of a vital media ecosystem serving the diversity of our communities. The major national news outlets are providing important information about the broad sweep of the pandemic, and holding federal officials to account. It is up to local newspapers, TV stations, and digital platforms to deliver the detailed information about their own communities to audiences struggling to stay healthy and protect their families. These journalists also bring us the human dimension of this crisis, both the tragedies and the bright lights of generosity and bravery. They deepen our empathy and help us connect to one another during a period in which it is so easy to feel isolated.

Thank you for joining us in 2020 to say #ThankYouJournalists.

Welcome!

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