Wednesday night was the 29th annual Radio Television Digital News Foundation First Amendment Dinner. Each year, we honor journalists and First Amendment leaders who have refused to let fear silence facts, and just by tuning in, you’re a press freedom champion, too.
All across the United States, every day of the year, our members are exercising their responsibility, protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, to hold the powerful accountable and to seek and report the truth.
These journalists do so because a better-informed public is empowered to make knowledgeable decisions about the directions of their communities and their nation.
Those we honored have demonstrated with distinction the importance of the First Amendment that RTDNA, our Voice of the First Amendment Task Force and our sister Foundation are doing more than ever to promote and protect.
We recognized a news network that has weathered sustained verbal attacks from, and attempts to limit its access to, the White House. The leader of a network news organization that distinguishes itself daily through the quality of its news coverage. A network news correspondent who worked tirelessly to shine a light on the pain and suffering of thousands of his fellow Americans in the aftermath of Mother Nature’s wrath.
We honored a news anchor and managing editor who has consistently reported the facts, impervious to internal and external forces that likely wish he would do otherwise. A group of correspondents, most still early in their careers, who logged tens of thousands of miles of travel to put into context the issues that mattered most to voters ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. A local sports anchor whose commentaries have provoked thought and debate about some of our nation’s most divisive issues.
And we remembered journalists who gave their lives, in one case to speak truth to power, and in the others to keep their community in the know.
Men and women have fought and died to protect the First Amendment. Our nation’s highest court has consistently upheld its assurances of a free press. Though under threat more than at any time in our modern history, no temporary inhabitant of any public office or institution, no matter how powerful, may usurp it.
In the words of retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, “The First Amendment is often inconvenient. But that is beside the point. Inconvenience does not absolve the government of its obligation[s].”
Enjoy the inspiring words of our honorees. Then, return to your newsrooms or to your beats and be inconvenient in your pursuit of the truth.
RTDNA and RTDNF will have your backs, fighting for press freedom in courts and legislatures across the country. Together, we will forcefully defend the public’s right to know.