WASHINGTON, D.C. (JUNE 13) – Following are the comments of Dean Lucy Dalglish in accepting the Distinguished Service in Local Journalism Award from the SPJ-DC Chapter during the organization’s Hall of Fame/Dateline Awards dinner at the National Press Club:
Thank you to the Washington Society of Professional Journalists chapter for this wonderful recognition.
Thank you, especially, to Sue Kopen-Katcef, a dedicated member of the faculty of Philip Merrill College of Journalism, for that lovely introduction. Over the years, Sue has produced a fanatically devoted network of broadcast students and alumni who are working across the globe. She has the biggest fan club at the college.
I first met Sue, and several of you in this room, nearly 30 years ago at a national SPJ convention. In fact, I joined SPJ as a college sophomore, and have stayed a member for more decades than I want to count. I have worked in several newsrooms, a law firm, a Washington non-profit and the University of Maryland. My SPJ contacts across the country have helped me make connections and transitions in each of those jobs. For that, I am very grateful.
I don’t know what motivates other journalists and lawyers, but I have always acted on the belief that journalists and lawyers play an essential role in our democracy. I believe that my best contribution to my country and my community has been to provide timely, accurate, useful information to my fellow citizens so that they can make informed decisions about how we will all live together peacefully and productively.
These are unsettling, yet exciting, times to be involved in journalism education. The profession our young graduates is entering is so different from the one I jumped into in the 1980s. In fact, the entire journalism ecosystem has changed.
- A year ago, none of us had ever heard the words “fake news.”
- Journalists were not arrested or accosted at American political rallies and cabinet-level press conferences.
- A president of the United States had never declared journalists to be “the enemy of the people.”
Our graduates are smart, ethical and hard-working. They know they are not anybody’s enemy.
We have taught them to follow the SPJ Code of Ethics: to dig for the truth; report it independently and fairly; minimize harm to the people who are the innocent bystanders of the news; and to acknowledge and correct their mistakes.
Over the past few months, I have also come to believe that one of the most daunting challenges facing our country is something people in fragile democracies already know: we as a society must value and nurture democracy. That cannot be done without the free press envisioned in our constitution.
Education and training of journalists has never been more important.
Last month, one of Merrill College’s visiting Fulbright international journalists, a veteran Indian newspaper journalist named Hittender Rau, addressed a gathering at the college.
Here is what he said:
“Democracy is precious. Democracies are fragile.
Most of us, even in this country, don’t think so, but democracies can be very easily dismantled, and are currently in danger all over the world. Without a free, functional, well-trained, skilled press, you cannot have a democracy.
And, what happens in one country has consequences all over the world, including right here in America.
As democracies crumble, so erodes the security of the United States.”
I hope you agree that development of young and veteran journalists has never been more urgent — And that you will join me in educating tomorrow’s journalists.