College announces recipients of 67th Lovejoy award

On Friday, Oct. 4, at 4 p.m., the 67th Elijah Parish Lovejoy Journalism Award, honoring those who have contributed to the country’s achievement in journalism, will be distributed in Lorimer Chapel, just as it has each year since 1952. The award reflects the heroic actions of Elijah Parish Lovejoy, who  graduated from Colby in 1826 America’s first martyr for freedom of the press.

Lovejoy was killed in Alton, Illinois while refusing to stop publishing articles that spoke against the institution of slavery, dying at the hand of a pro-slavery mob that attempted to destroy his printing press. The Lovejoy academic building on the quad is named in his honor.

This year’s award will not be presented to a single recipient, as has been the traditional case. Instead, the selection committee has decided to honor the 66 journalists who have sacrificed their lives in 2018 including Jamal Khashoggi, who was assassinated at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Martin Smith from Frontline, Hala Dosor from Radcliffe, and Quil Laurence from National Public Radio will be speaking at the award ceremony.

“This decision was easy, and obvious,” David Shribman, Lovejoy Award selection committee member and former executive editor and vice president of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, stated in a recent email to the Echo. “So many journalists have paid an intolerable price for doing the job they were put on this earth to do. When the committee convened in the spring it was clear we wanted to make an important statement. The Lovejoy Award was the forum to make that statement.”

The ceremony will acknowledge the danger and risk involved for journalists as they strive to create a more informed world, meaning that this year’s event will echo Lovejoy’s life and values more powerfully than ever.

“Elijah Parish Lovejoy is the first martyr to the freedom of the press. He is a symbol to all of us in the press of the courage that often is required simply to do our work,” Shribman said. “He stands for the free exchange of information and for the vitality of our craft.”

Students were excited to hear that the award will bring attention to journalists who lost their lives.

“I think it’s a great thing for the College to do, a really great direction to take the award,” Sam Scott `21 said in an interview with the Echo. “I’m excited to see how they put together this tribute, or this remembrance for the journalists that have done such important work. I think it’s important given the climate we’re in right now that they do something like this.”

“I’m very excited about the Lovejoy Award this year. As of recently learning about it, I think that it is a great award and has a lot of meaning behind it, and this will be my first year seeing it given so I think that that’s something really cool,” Carson Katen `21 said. “I think that it’s a great tribute to everyone who was a journalist and is now deceased.”

Last year, the award was given to Chuck Plunkett, who published an editorial in the Denver Post speaking out against mismanagement by the newspaper’s parent company, Digital Media First, which dramatically reduced the size of the publication’s newsroom staff. Plunkett was eventually forced to resign as a result of his actions.

The Lovejoy Award is not the only upcoming campus event that is bringing attention to violence against journalists. On Tuesday, Oct. 1, the College’s Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs will be hosting an event called Putin, Russia, and the Media: Journalism in Contemporary Russia. The event will feature a talk from Professor of History Paul Josephson, who will discuss the ways in which the Russian government attacks the free press, according to the College’s website.

The 67th Elijah Parish Lovejoy Convocation will be structured as a Q&A session with a selection of journalists and scholars, highlighting the specific works and actions of journalists who put themselves in danger for the purpose of uncovering critical narratives. The convocation will then open up to become a campus-wide reception. Colby parents who will be on campus for homecoming weekend are also invited to attend the ceremony.

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