The Overseas Press Club of America is honored to join with colleagues at press clubs around the world in recognizing World Press Freedom Day. We would like to take the opportunity to highlight the grave responsibility we have to support journalists who face significant challenges as they go about their work. This year we are mindful of journalists in such places as Myanmar, Hong Kong, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia who have had to overcome government interference and many other obstacles to remain independent and produce quality work.
The OPC in the last two years has taken on three projects to support the cause of independent journalism. It made grants to freelance journalists around the world whose assignments dried up during the pandemic; it helped Afghan journalists who have relocated to the U.S. and are seeking to reestablish their careers here; and it raised funds to help journalists in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia whose lives have been upended by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or have faced harassment from their authoritarian governments.
Through the generosity of members and the Ford Foundation, the OPC has distributed grants to 33 Afghan journalists of $4,000 each — funds earmarked to help them transition to new lives and careers in the U.S. Many of these recipients are women who left Afghanistan because they feared for their lives. As one woman who received a grant said in her thank-you letter that the support by American organizations of Afghan journalists who have been forced to flee their homes shows “that the American people and society value human and democratic values.” Another Afghan journalist said: “I hope that one day I will be able to help others in American society…as I am helped today.”
The OPC in recent months has embarked on a campaign to help journalists in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia operating under significant challenges amid the Ukraine war — again, many of them women. At our recent awards dinner, the OPC raised about $35,000 for these journalists, which we hope will allow them to continue to bring us stories that the world needs to hear. On this World Press Freedom Day, with journalists in Ukraine under physical threat, we are hoping to raise more funds to help protect them and allow them to continue their livelihoods.
The Overseas Press Club of America is the nation’s oldest and largest association of journalists engaged in international news. Every year, it awards the most prestigious prizes devoted exclusively to international news coverage. It was founded in 1939 by nine foreign correspondents in New York City, and has grown to nearly 500 members worldwide. The club’s mission is to uphold the highest standards in news reporting, advance press freedom and promote good fellowship among colleagues while educating a new generation of journalists.