December 17, 2018

Press Freedom

OPC Freedom of the Press Committee Annual Report

As promised last year, your committee has attempted to broaden its activities over the past year. We have been partially successful.

We have written many more articles touching on press freedom for the OPC website and the Bulletin. We organized another discussion forum for the website, this one exploring what it takes to qualify as a journalist and whether bloggers, new media writers and the like have rights to cross police lines, shield their sources and the like.

We have written 54 of our traditional letters protesting abuses of the press to governments around the world, including our own. As I said last year, this represents no increase, and we did not plan one; we were keeping the franchise alive while exploring added activities.

The year’s major initiative came in trying to exploit the new social media, including Facebook and Twitter, to generate traffic for our Web site, raise the profile of the OPC and of course increase general interest in the cause of press freedom. With the help of an intern, Marissa Miller, we posted actively all last summer and most of the fall. During that time, the OPC’s Twitter following rose to more than 600 – not a lot by movie-star standards, but more than twice what it had been. I judged that to be a moderate success, but the effort would benefit from a stronger voice in the Tweets and a more provocative choice of subjects. I hope the experiment will continue.

As I also said a year ago, this will be my last appearance as chair of the Freedom of the Press Committee. After 19 years on the job, with a couple off to be president of the club, I am simply burned out, and the committee needs new leadership with the fire and dedication that the late Norman Schorr brought to it for so many years. My hat is off to him, and to all the members of the committee who have given time and energy to the cause over the years. Thanks to all of them, and to the club for its support.

And goodbye.

Respectfully submitted by: Larry Martz, Chairman