Trump signs bill authorizing memorial to fallen journalists

President Trump signed a bill into law Wednesday evening authorizing a monument honoring journalists who were killed while reporting the news. 

The Fallen Journalists Memorial Act, which passed through Congress with bipartisan support earlier this month, permits the Fallen Journalists Memorial (FJM) Foundation to plan and raise funds for the construction of a permanent memorial in Washington, D.C. The bill was sponsored by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Reps. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.). 

“The memorial will honor the reporters, photojournalists, producers, editors and others who have died while performing their jobs as journalists. It will demonstrate to our citizens and to visitors from around the world that our country values a free press, honors the sacrifices of journalists and supports the family, friends and colleagues of the fallen,” FJM Foundation Chair David Dreier said in a statement. “The Foundation looks forward to beginning a collaborative process that brings together the journalism community, freedom of the press advocates and other stakeholders to design, develop, construct and maintain a memorial of historical and lasting significance with private funds.” 

Plans for the monument were first rolled out in 2019, about a year after a shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Md. That shooting, which killed five people, was the deadliest attack against journalists in American history.

“The free media, one of the pillars of our nation, is under attack figuratively and literally across America. Too many, including five innocent souls lost in the shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, gave everything they had in defense of democracy, transparency and freedom,” said Cardin.  “This new memorial will honor the lives of those who died reporting the news and supporting the media on behalf of the American people.”

“A free and open press is essential to our democracy, and I applaud President Trump for signing into law our bipartisan legislation to establish the National Memorial to Fallen Journalists,” added Portman. “This memorial will serve as a fitting tribute to the men and women in journalism, including those from the Capital Gazette, who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of the First Amendment.”

Trump has had an acrimonious relationship with the press, panning outlets that publish reports that he deems critical as “fake news” and has called the press the “enemy of the people.”

The president also recently signed a bill authorizing the construction of a women’s suffrage monument in Washington.