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SPJ continues to advocate for journalists through its Legal Defense and First Amendment Forever Fund


3/13/2024


CONTACT:
Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins, SPJ National President, ashanti.blaize@gmail.com
Kim Tsuyuki, SPJ Communications Specialist, ktsuyuki@hq.spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — As the country celebrates Sunshine Week, the Society of Professional Journalists is proud to have committed more than $50,000 over the past year to ensure journalists have the resources they need to continue their vital work without fear of censorship or retaliation.

Through its Legal Defense Fund and First Amendment Forever Fund, SPJ has continued its unwavering commitment to defending the rights of journalists. With a dedication to upholding freedom of speech and the press, SPJ assists journalists facing legal battles for simply doing their jobs; helps fund documentaries aimed at uncovering the truth and educating the public on the role of a free press; and fights for journalists whose equipment and property have been confiscated – just to name a few.

Sunshine Week, observed annually, serves as a poignant reminder of the fundamental principles upon which journalism stands – transparency, accountability and the unyielding pursuit of truth. In an era marked by unprecedented challenges to press freedom, SPJ remains steadfast in its mission to protect the rights of journalists and safeguard the public's right to access information.

"At a time when the free flow of information is under threat, SPJ stands as a beacon of support for journalists everywhere," said Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins, SPJ national president. "Our commitment to defending the First Amendment is unwavering, and during Sunshine Week, we renew our pledge to advocate for the indispensable role of a free press in society."

This year alone, the SPJ Legal Defense Fund has granted $10,000 to assist freelance journalist Tim Burke and over $18,000 out of the $20,000 committed to the Marion County Record to help cover legal fees. The SPJ First Amendment Forever Fund has provided $15,000 toward the development of “SEIZED,” a documentary on the Marion County Record raid.

“The funds provided this year are some of the most impactful LDF grants in recent years,” Blaize-Hopkins said. “It’s part of SPJ’s mission to fight to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. SPJ’s mission is vital, now more than ever.”

SPJ has also signed onto more than 20 amicus briefs and made over 20 statements in support of journalists and journalism organizations facing legal battles in court.

The allocation of funds from SPJ's Legal Defense Fund and First Amendment Forever Fund underscores the organization's proactive stance in confronting the myriad obstacles facing journalists today. From legal challenges to attacks on press freedom, SPJ remains at the forefront of the fight to protect the rights of journalists and ensure that the voices of the Fourth Estate continue to be heard.

As Sunshine Week unfolds, SPJ calls upon individuals and organizations alike to join in the collective effort to preserve and protect freedom of speech and the press. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we stand united in defense of these fundamental liberties, which serve as the cornerstone of a free and democratic society.

More information on the SPJ LDF and FAFF – and ways to donate to each fund – may be found on the SPJ website.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund or give to the SPJ Foundation.

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