The winner of this year’s Society of Professional Journalists’ high school essay contest on press freedom understands the linkage between media freedom and other civil liberties.
The contest — Why are free and independent news media important? — is designed to increase among high school students an increased understanding and knowledge of the importance of free media.
This year’s winner, Erin McDonough of Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Va, used Burma and China as evidence how free media and civil liberties go hand in hand.
By eliminating the free press first, authoritarian governments eliminate their opposition and open the floodgates for the repression of other civil liberties.
She gets it.
It makes me feel that there may yet be hope that more Americans can make the connection between free media and other civil liberties and why it is important to speak up about violations of freedom of press in other countries.
McDonough’s entry first won the Washington, D.C. SPJ chapter contest. Her winning entry was then forwarded to the national SPJ for consideration. The national SPJ award includes a scholarship check of $1,000.
She and a companion will be feted at the annual DC SPJ Dateline Awards/Hall of Fame Dinner June 15.
Read her full essay here.