The Foundation will be seeking additional approval from Congress to locate the memorial in an area adjacent to the National Mall known as Area I, and in direct line of sight of the U.S. Capitol. This will reinforce what the First Amendment makes clear – that the press is independent of the government and serves as a watchdog to hold government accountable to the people. With the help of the design and engineering firm AECOM, the Foundation completed a site selection study and presented it to the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission on October 5, 2021. The Commission unanimously agreed with the Foundation’s recommendation and has advised the Secretary of Interior to support a Congressional authorization to locate the memorial in Area I. The Foundation will be working to secure that authorization in 2022.
The Foundation is collaborating with Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic Paul Goldberger to develop a process for determining the design of the memorial and to assist in the selection process for the architect. The Foundation plans to finalize that process in early 2022, announce design goals for the memorial, and begin identifying potential architects, with the aim of announcing a preferred design concept by the end of 2022. While no formal decisions have been made, the Foundation is considering a modestly sized, non-intrusive memorial, without names, that represents the full breadth of journalism – past, present and future. The memorial will be a commemorative landscape that will serve as a place for reflection and appreciation for those who lost their lives, a focal point for learning about the First Amendment and the role of journalism in a functioning democracy, and a convening space for commemoration. In addition to a physical memorial, the Foundation will provide programming and digital resources to amplify the history of the First Amendment and the free press and to portray the courage of individual journalists who sacrificed their lives. The Foundation will undertake initiatives, including partnership efforts with educational institutions, journalism organizations, and other stakeholders that work to protect a free press.
The memorial will be funded entirely by private donations. The ultimate cost of the memorial will depend on variables including the location, size and design of the memorial, materials used, the approval and permitting process, construction and maintenance costs, and any educational programs associated with the Foundation. Based on previous memorials, it is estimated that the total cost could be up to $50 million. This total meets the requirement to allocate 10 percent of the funding to the National Park Service for maintenance of the memorial. It also includes funds to provide ongoing educational programming. Given the challenges the journalism industry is facing, this is a worthwhile investment that will enhance the awareness and understanding of the importance of journalism to our democracy.
Designing and building a memorial in Washington, D.C., on federal land is dictated by the Commemorative Works Act of 1986. The Act outlines a seven-year framework from enactment of authorizing legislation to completion of the project. The process is overseen by the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission, which is chaired by the National Park Service and made up of other key regulatory agencies that approve commemorative project designs. They include the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, the National Capital Planning Commission, and others.
The effort to build a Fallen Journalists Memorial was launched by former U.S. Representative and Tribune Publishing Company Chairman David Dreier to mark the first anniversary of the deadliest assault against journalists in United States history. That was the June 28, 2018, murder of five employees in the newsroom of the Tribune’s Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland. Additionally, in 2019, the Newseum, which housed a memorial to fallen journalists, closed its doors.
The Foundation is led by former U.S. Representative and Tribune Publishing Company Chairman David Dreier and former news executive and journalism professor Barbara Cochran. Numerous leaders from all segments of the journalism community serve on its Board of Advisors. The Foundation currently operates under the auspices of the National Press Club Journalism Institute, the non-profit educational affiliate of the National Press Club.
America’s Commitment to a Free Press is a Beacon to the World
By Amanda Bennett
Former Director, Voice of America
Does the First Amendment Apply to Me: Press Freedom in the Long Struggle for Civil Rights
By Earnest L. Perry Jr., Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research Missouri School of Journalism
Even in the Face of Danger, Journalists Keep Watch
By Clarence Page
Columnist and member, Chicago Tribune Editorial Board
Fallen Journalists Memorial: Recognizing the Vital Role Local News Media Plays in American Communities
By Rick Hutzell
Former Editor of the Capitol Gazette in Annapolis, MD
Holding Power Accountable is Key Mission of Free and Fearless Press
By Leonard Downie Jr.
Weil Family Professor of Journalism, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, Arizona State University, former executive editor, The Washington Post
Journalists Keep the Flame of Democracy Alive
By Michael Beschloss
Memorial will Show the Public Why a Free Press Matters to Them
By Paul Goldberger
Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair, architecture critic
The Press and the Republic Rise and Fall Together
By Tom Rosenstiel
Eleanor Merrill Visiting Professor on the Future of Journalism at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism