The Fallen Journalists Memorial Foundation received approval to begin designing a memorial on the National Mall, in direct line of sight of the U.S. Capitol. The site is at Independence Avenue, Maryland Avenue, and 3rd SW, between the National Museum of the American Indian and the Voice of America. Locating the memorial on an unattached “island” parcel within close proximity of each of the three branches of government underscores the essential and independent role that journalists play in holding those institutions accountable to the people.
The design team selection process is being overseen by Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic Paul Goldberger, with design concepts to be developed in early 2024. 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 these initiatives in partnership 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 size and design, materials used, the approval and permitting process, construction and maintenance costs, and associated educational programs. Based on previous memorials, it is estimated that the total cost will be $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 Foundation expects to dedicate the finished memorial in late 2028.
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. Since then, well over 300 additional journalists and media workers around the world have been killed while doing their jobs. Additionally, in 2019, the Newseum, which housed a memorial to fallen journalists, closed its doors.
The Foundation is led by 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.
April 23, 2023
By Amanda Bennett
Former Director, Voice of America
By Earnest L. Perry Jr., Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research Missouri School of Journalism
By Clarence Page
Columnist and member, Chicago Tribune Editorial Board
By Rick Hutzell
Former Editor of the Capitol Gazette in Annapolis, MD
By Leonard Downie Jr.
Weil Family Professor of Journalism, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, Arizona State University, former executive editor, The Washington Post
By Michael Beschloss
By Paul Goldberger
Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair, architecture critic
By Tom Rosenstiel
Eleanor Merrill Visiting Professor on the Future of Journalism at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism