NEW YORK — The Student Press Law Center today announced the launch of a $3.75 million endowment campaign. Called Tomorrow’s Voices: A Campaign for the Future of Press Freedom, the major fundraising effort is in response to a $1.25 million challenge grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The announcement ceremony featured an address by Soledad O’Brien, anchor, CNN American Morning, an honorary chair of the Tomorrow’s Voices campaign.
According to Rosalind Stark, SPLC board member and campaign chair, “Since its inception in 1974 the Student Press Law Center has been committed to nurturing and protecting First Amendment freedoms for high school and college students throughout the nation. This campaign will help ensure that the growing demands for the service and support of the SPLC will continue to be met for future generations.”
O’Brien spoke to an audience of student journalists and advisers, kicking off the SPLC campaign as part of Sunshine Week, Your Right To Know, an initiative spearheaded by a coalition of journalism groups to promote openness in government. The announcement was made in conjunction with two national student media conventions sponsored by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and College Media Advisers Inc., which will bring thousands of high school and college journalists and their advisers to New York City.
“I believe journalism is a calling — a mission with a goal of truth and accuracy on all fronts,” O’Brien said. “But journalists — especially student journalists who are just entering the profession — need to understand how they too are protected by the First Amendment.”
Over half the endowment campaign’s goal already has been raised from the SPLC board of directors and a group of early contributors, according to SPLC Executive Director Mark Goodman. “To date we have received $1.3 million in commitments toward the $2.5 million needed to meet the Knight Foundation challenge,” he said. “We are hearing in a substantive way from a broad cross-section of those concerned about the future of a free and responsible press — journalists, publishers, attorneys and teachers — that our work is needed and appreciated.”
“More than 2,400 youth journalists, teachers and others contact the SPLC each year for assistance, advice or information and over 40,000 visit its Web site each month,” said SPLC Board Chair David Adams. “Those numbers increase every year. And since the SPLC offers resources to students and educators at little or no cost, a strong endowment is essential to help meet the growing costs of supporting its operations.”
Besides O’Brien, honorary chairs for the Tomorrow’s Voices campaign include First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams, partner, Cahill, Gordon & Reindel; Caesar Andrews, editor, Gannett News Service; Charles O’Malley, retired director of the Scholastic Press Association at Columbia University; and Fox News legal expert Greta Van Susteren, host of On the Record.
“During the next several months the Tomorrow’s Voices campaign plans to reach out across the nation to friends of a free, responsible and credible student press,” said Stark. “We hope everyone who supports the First Amendment will be as generous as possible to this important effort.”
The Student Press Law Center, a nonprofit organization, is an advocate for student free-press and freedom-of-information rights. It provides information, advice and legal assistance at no charge to students and the educators who work with them. The SPLC chose the birth date of First Amendment author James Madison, which falls during Sunshine Week, as the time to announce its endowment campaign. The Center seeks to carry the week’s message about freedom of information to student journalists, in addition to the many professional journalists who are celebrating the week through editorials, op-ed pieces, editorial cartoons and feature newspaper, television and radio stories. Sunshine Week also is supported by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in Miami.
For more information about the SPLC’s Tomorrow’s Voices campaign, contact:
Student Press Law Center
or visit www.tomorrowsvoices.com.