The National Press Club, the premier association of U.S. journalists, was founded by 32 newspapermen in 1908 to “provide people who gather and disseminate news a center for…the promotion of free expression, mutual support and social fellowship.” Since its founding, the organization has sought to keep First Amendment issues front and center in the public eye.
National Press Club hosts weekly luncheons with famous speakers
Originally restricted to white males, the club is now open to all those who supply the news, including women journalists and government information officers. The club is perhaps best known for hosting weekly luncheons for speakers at its headquarters in the National Press Building in Washington, D.C. The first such speaker was President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932. Since then, the club has hosted numerous other U.S. and world leaders, many of whose speeches have been televised.
Club supports legislation to protect freedom of the press and open government
The club also supports legislation, such as shield laws, designed to protect freedom of the press. A favorite cause is “Sunshine Week,” a national initiative designed to stimulate discussion about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Along the same lines, the National Press Club has advocated broadcasting sessions of the Supreme Court.
Finally, the club gives numerous awards for outstanding reporting, including the Annual Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism and the John Aubuchon Freedom of the Press Award.