From June 14-20, the Freedom Forum Institute will host 51 of the nation’s leading high school student journalists, one from every state and the District of Columbia, for the 2019 Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference, held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Each year, this academic and scholarship program inspires and equips some of best and brightest students in the United States to pursue careers in the journalism and media industries. This program was created in 1999 to honor the late Al Neuharth, founder of USA TODAY, the Freedom Forum and Newseum.
The rising high school seniors, selected from hundreds of applicants, are awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington to attend the conference, and additionally will each receive a $1,000 scholarship to the college of his or her choice. A list of the 2019 Al Neuharth Free Spirit Journalism Scholars is available at freedomforuminstitute.org/freespirit2019.
The Freedom Forum Institute enlists the help of high school journalism educators throughout the country to recruit applicants and promote this important program. Prospective applicants were required to submit work samples, letters of recommendation, student transcripts and essays about their interest in journalism, as well as the qualities they possess that render them “free spirits.”
“As ambitious, young journalists, these 51 students epitomize the ideals set forth by the Free Spirit program. In each of them we see the imagination to dream, the courage to dare and the capability to do great things,” explained Jan Neuharth, chair and CEO of the Freedom Forum.
During presentations, meetings and experiences at the Newseum and at additional destinations across the nation’s capital, the selected students will learn about the importance of a free press, the First Amendment and its critical role as a cornerstone of democracy.
In addition to touring the Newseum, the students will hear from numerous presenters, including David Fahrenthold, a reporter at The Washington Post and the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner for National Reporting. The students will also attend a taping of NBC’s “Meet the Press” with host Chuck Todd at the NBC News studio.
The students will also attend the presentation of the 2019 Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in The Media at the Newseum on June 17. This year’s recipient is Pulitzer Prize–winning photojournalist Carol Guzy. Guzy will be the 33rd person to receive the award, which recognizes lifetime achievement in the media industry. The award is sponsored by the Freedom Forum, Newseum, Freedom Forum Institute and the University of South Dakota (USD), where Al Neuharth graduated in 1950 with a journalism degree.