Journalism Students Report on World Press Freedom Day
May 4, 2011 – Georgetown graduate journalism students reported on this year's World Press Freedom Day, an annual event hosted by the United Nations Foundation, UNESCO and the State Department that took place May 1–3 in Washington, D.C.
It is the first time in almost 20 years that the conference was held in the United States.
World Press Freedom Day is officially recognized on May 3, and the theme for this year’s conference was “21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers.”
“In the classroom, we learn about the First Amendment and the role of a free press as a cornerstone of democracy,” said student journalist Deirdre Bannon (G’11). “So it’s an invaluable experience to interact with journalists from around the world who are on the front lines, risking their lives for press freedom in order to get vital information to people in their communities.”
The students covered events at the Newseum and National Press Club, which featured the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale, among other speakers.
They also reported on journalists from around the world, including North Africa and the Middle East.
“Covering WFPD serves as a reminder that everything I’m learning in the classroom has a real-world application, says Allison Brennan (G’12). “In stark contrast to my experiences reporting in the United States, the challenges these journalists face are daunting and only serve to show how courageous they really are.”
Brennan and Bannon are pursuing the Masters in Professional Studies (MPS) Journalism degree, which is housed within Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies. Brennan is also earning a Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies certificate at Georgetown.
Reach and Reputation
As independent reporters, the Georgetown student journalists covered breakout sessions, interviewed participants and speakers, Tweeted, wrote and produced blog posts and captured conference highlights using video and photography, during the three-day event.
The program served as World Press Freedom Day’s official university partner.
“The reach and reputation of the Georgetown journalism program and students will help bring World Press Freedom Day 2011 to a worldwide audience through the power of innovative journalism and new media,” said Aaron Sherinian, executive director of communications and public affairs for the United Nations Foundation, in a statement prior to the event.
Denise Li, associate dean of the MPS journalism program, said it’s important for aspiring journalists to take part in a global conversation about freedom of the press.
“Our students will use this valuable opportunity to hone their reporting and social media skills,” she said before the event, “as they provide a spotlight on the issues surrounding challenges to a free press in the digital age.”