In front of the Newseum on Monday, glass cases that usually display the day’s front pages were uniform and black. Headlines, photographs, bylines and text vanished; in their place were posters bearing the words “#WithoutNews.”
#WithoutNews is the Newseum’s annual social media campaign to raise awareness of the threats faced by journalists around the world. By blacking out the front pages of newspapers for one day, it encourages the public to consider what their world would be like without a free and independent press reporting the news.
On Monday the Newseum also rededicated its Journalists Memorial, which recognizes journalists who have died covering the news. This year the names of 14 journalists who died in 2016 were added to the memorial. In a moving ceremony attended by some of the journalists’ co-workers and family members, NPR’s senior vice president of news Michael Oreskes delivered the keynote speech. NPR photojournalist David Gilkey, who was killed on assignment in Afghanistan, was one of the 14 journalists to be recognized on the memorial. The June 5th ceremony marked the one-year anniversary of Gilkey’s death.
“As we rededicate this wall by adding their names, we must rededicate ourselves to the cause they died for,” said Oreskes. “The right to gather and distribute the news… the right of every citizen to have access to free and independent information. That was their cause.”
The stories of all journalists recognized on the memorial can be accessed through the Newseum’s online database. They are moving tales of individuals who exhibited outstanding bravery, persistence, and dedication to a simple but crucial mission: to deliver information to the public, so that we may have the tools we need to fight corruption and oppression. Because without news, or as Oreskes said, “without independent, verified facts, freedom can easily slip away.”