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Freedom of the Press Day

Benjamin Franklin at the printing press

Benjamin Franklin at a Printing Press, by E. Boyd Smith (1860–1943), from an illustrated version of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. From Project Gutenberg.

Almighty God, who sendest thy messengers with glad tidings and dire warnings: Watch over thy servants the members of the press, keeping them safe from peril in their pursuit of truth and justice. Bless them that have perished in this work, especially those killed by a gunman in the offices of the Capital-Gazette, and watch over their colleagues who continue to work in the face of opposition, repression, subversion, and threats of bodily harm; for the only security of all is in a free press; through Jesus Christ our Lord, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God ever, world without end. Amen.

On June 28th, 2018, a gunman attacked the office of The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, killing five people: editor and columnist Rob Hiaasen; community correspondent Wendi Winters; editorial page editor Gerald Fischman; editor and sportswriter John McNamara; and sales assistant Rebecca Smith. On March 28th, 2019, the Maryland General Assembly voted unanimously to name June 28 “Freedom of the Press Day”, and the bill was signed by Governor Larry Hogan on April 19th.

In 1993, the United nations General Assembly declared May 3rd to be World Press Freedom Day. This marked the anniversary of the 1991 “Windhoek Declaration” (the “Windhoek Declaration for the Development of a Free, Independent and Pluralistic Press”), prepared by African newspaper journalists at a UNESCO seminar held in Windhoek, Namibia.

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